2/27/2014 3:10 P.M. ET
Schoop shines in O's intrasquad games
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles played their second intrasquad game on Thursday in preparation for Friday's opener, and the game ended on a fun touch, with video coordinator Mike Silverman behind the plate.
"He got a little cold-footed in the meeting this morning. I didn't think he was going to pull the trigger," manager Buck Showalter said of Silverman, who served as umpire for the final half-inning in the top of the fifth and called out infielder Jonathan Schoop. "Now all the pitchers want him. We've got somebody who will call strike three.
"It's a lot easier for Jonathan to take if he's hit a home run that day and had a good day. He's playing with house money."
Schoop, who went down looking to end the game, has homered twice in two days, and Showalter has praised the organization's top position-player prospect for growing into his body and seeming more comfortable this spring.
"Jon's in a good place," Showalter said. "I think he's had some very good role models. And as I've said before with Jonathan, it's a matter of when, not if. That's what we'll try to judge here. He's off to a pretty good start here. That's for sure."
Jemile Weeks, who is also competing for the second base job, singled and walked in the game and Showalter hailed Weeks -- who took second on a fly ball -- for being a plus runner.
Wei-Yin Chen -- who started for the visiting team -- won a 12-pitch battle with Delmon Young in the first inning, throwing a nasty changeup that had a little cut action to it, while closer candidate Tommy Hunter was clocked at 95 mph.
T.J. McFarland retired Nelson Cruz, who grounded out in his lone at-bat, and got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 frame.
Potential DH Cruz wants experience in outfield
SARASOTA, Fla. -- New Oriole Nelson Cruz wants to play the outfield as much as possible this spring.
The veteran outfielder grounded out in his only at-bat in the team's intrasquad game on Thursday, and Cruz -- who figures to be the team's designated hitter -- said he told manager Buck Showalter during their talk Wednesday that he wants to get a lot of reps in the field.
"I told [Showalter] I want to play most of my games in the outfield, especially during Spring Training, so I get everything done," said Cruz, who is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut in the team's home opener Saturday.
"It depends on how you feel; sometimes in Spring Training in your first at-bat, you feel great. It's about feeling good. Sometimes you can get hits and you don't feel like it should be hits, but it happens. Let's see how it feels Saturday and how many at-bats I take."
Cruz hit ninth Thursday, which he said he probably hadn't done since his days starting out in the Dominican Republic, but he said that it doesn't matter to him where he is in the lineup. Showalter made the lineups out in reverse alphabetical order, the opposite of Wednesday, and Cruz is expected to slot into the middle of the lineup for actual games.
As for his new uniform, Cruz -- who will wear No. 23 with No. 17 already taken -- quipped: "I wanted to take the number from [Wayne] Kirby."
Cruz and Kirby, the Orioles first-base coach, go back to their days in the Texas organization together. Kirby sported No. 99 for Thursday's intrasquad game, but he will wear 24 when the season starts.
"I thought nobody wore Number 23," Cruz said. "They asked me, do you want to wear 23? I guess I'm going to have to buy something for [Kirby]."
'Two minutes with ...' series shifts to Johnson
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The "Two Minutes with ..." spring series continues with Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson. Johnson has spent time in the bullpen and rotation and is competing for a roster spot. The 26-year-old Maryland native went 1-1 in nine games for Baltimore last season (including one start), posting a 7.47 ERA. He went 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games (four starts) in his rookie season in 2012.
Favorite food: Crab cakes. I like Box Hill in Abingdon, it's probably my favorite to go to, but I also make some good ones myself. Crab cakes or steamed crabs, any day.
Favorite movie: There's so many. I enjoy A Few Good Men. It's one of my favorites.
Hidden talent: I make up words to songs in the car that have nothing to do with the actual song lyric. My girlfriend gets mad at me, but I would say I'm pretty good at it. I can't do it on the spot [sans music], but if you got a song playing in here right now, I probably could.
If I wasn't a baseball player I'd be ...: Honestly, I liked playing football a lot. I would have worked out a lot differently to get stronger, but I would have loved to play that and see where that took me. I have big hands, so being a receiver would have been interesting. I'd like to think I would have been pretty good.
Favorite offseason place: I'm very boring, so I wouldn't mind going home [in White Marsh, Md.] and staying there. I don't have a specific place that I go to, but I wouldn't mind going someplace different every year. I want to travel more.
Prized possession: My dad [former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson] and my baseballs for our first win, which are on the same day. I'd like to think that would be one that I'd try to keep, because that doesn't happen very often.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.