3/5/2014 10:41 P.M. ET
Huntzinger enjoying a fresh start with Orioles
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Brock Huntzinger, who had been in the Boston Red Sox's system since he was drafted in 2007, knew he needed a fresh set of eyes this winter. So when Baltimore showed interest -- and with the opportunity of several O's bullpen spots up for grabs -- the right-hander didn't hesitate, signing a Minor League deal with an invite to big league Spring Training.
"[I wanted to] get under another microscope, get some other people to see me," said Huntzinger, who was a third-round Draft pick by Boston and is a dark horse to make the O's this spring. "[The Orioles] made me feel comfortable, and I didn't really know anyone here. So, I'm just coming in and saying, 'Hey, this is what I can do,' and hopefully they like it."
So far, so good. Huntzinger has retired all six batters he's faced, including striking out the side against the Yankees on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old also has thrown a scoreless inning against Red Sox regulars -- also on the road -- and was praised by manager Buck Showalter after both appearances.
"I can't remember the last time I struck out the side," Huntzinger said, when asked if Tuesday's trio of strikeouts was normal. "Probably in high school. I think it was all from getting ahead of guys. If I can start doing that, great. But no, I'm not going to strike everybody out. That's not really my thing."
Huntzinger has been sharp since arriving in Sarasota, and he credits playing winter ball for the first time in his career for helping to keep him on track. He had two stints in the Dominican, including 15 2/3 innings with the Estrellas, where he pitched to a 1.15 ERA. He returned shortly after Christmas and pitched in the postseason for Aguilas.
The Orioles' bullpen has three or four unclaimed spots. Huntzinger said he used to get really into keeping track of roster battles and what contract situations were in the clubhouse, but those days are gone.
"Coming here, I don't know what guys are starters or relievers, who's a free agent. And I think that's just kind of freed up my mind to just go out there and do what I can do," he said. "Obviously, I know they've got their guys or whatever, but they made me feel good in the process this offseason and they said there were going to be opportunities, so hopefully there's an opportunity."
O's to pay respects to late P.R. director Barlow
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- About 30 Orioles, including manager Buck Showalter, will leave Friday afternoon's game at 3 p.m. ET and get on a private plane to the Virginia area to attend memorial services for Monica Barlow.
Barlow, who died Friday morning at age 36 from stage IV lung cancer, served as the organization's public relations director and worked through her diagnosis for more than four years.
Showalter said the plane was originally going to seat 10, but there was such a demand in the clubhouse that owner Peter Angelos was arranging to get a different aircraft.
"Everybody wants to go, we had that problem and Mr. Angelos expanded the plane," Showalter said. "He will be [angry] I brought it up, but it's a hell of a gesture."
The plan is for the group to leave after playing four or five innings and return around 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday night. Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and pretty much all of the team's regulars will be going, with bench coach John Russell taking over and managing the rest of the game against the Phillies.
'Two minutes with...' starter Tillman
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The "Two Minutes with…" spring series continues with Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman, who emerged as the team's ace in a career 2013. The 25-year-old right-hander went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 games, and he is expected to head up the club's rotation again this spring.
Favorite food: Sushi. Definitely. I like the poke [roll], which they really only have in Hawaii and California. It's like cut-up tuna, and they put this sauce on it. It's ridiculous.
Favorite movie: The Sandlot.
Special talent: Fishing. I'm really good; ask anybody in the clubhouse. I fish bass tournaments in the offseason. I love to do it.
If I wasn't a baseball player I'd be… I'd try to be a pro fisherman. I started [fishing] when I was super young; I had a green Ninja Turtle pole. It was the greatest thing ever.
Favorite offseason place: Montana. I love it. J.J. [Hardy] just bought a place there; I went up there for two weeks. I go up there every offseason anyways just to hang out with a couple friends. My friends, family grew up there.
Prized possession: My dog, Miley [a silver lab], I spend more time with her than anything. She's my hunting dog, so when it's 30 below outside, this dog is getting the birds in the water. So I don't have to go in the water. Best looking dog you've ever seen in your life.
• Orioles lefty Zach Britton took a ball off his glove to end the fifth inning of Wednesday's 11-5 victory against the Twins, but manager Buck Showalter said after the game he was expected to be fine and that were no plans for X-rays.
Britton threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two in his second spring game. He followed Chris Tillman (2 1/3 innings) and Eddie Gamboa (2/3 of an inning). The 25-year-old lefty is competing for a rotation spot this spring and has allowed one run over four innings.
• David Lough was supposed to come to Wednesday's game against the Twins, but he was hit in the right toe by a line drive during outfield work. X-rays were OK, but Showalter wanted to play it safe and left Lough at home.
• Suk-min Yoon will leave for Canada on Monday and will "at least" pitch in a sim game before that. He will be gone a couple of days to work out immigration issues.
• Manny Machado started moving side to side Wednesday in fielding ground balls. He also had a mole removed from his back, but that would not sideline him.
• Dylan Bundy has six more sessions of long toss, and he is slated to throw off a flat ground mound on March 19.
• Henry Urrutia (right shoulder) is good to go, and he will be back in the mix for Thursday's game after practicing Wednesday with no restrictions.
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.