3/26/2014 8:10 P.M. ET
Markakis supports Strike Out Cancer initiative
By Brittany Ghiroli and Maureen Mullen / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has teamed up with Cardinals pitcher Jason Motte's "Strike Out Cancer" initiative, serving as Baltimore's representative in the MLB-wide effort to raise funds and awareness through T-shirt sales.
The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefit from the T-shirts sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."
Markakis' mother, Mary Lou, is a breast cancer survivor, and the Orioles lost a member of their family, public relations director Monica Barlow, to lung cancer this spring.
Orioles option two to Triple-A, reassign two
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Orioles' roster continued to take shape on Wednesday, with the club optioning Henry Urrutia and Steve Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigning outfielder Quintin Berry and infielder Alexi Casilla to Minor League camp after the game against the Red Sox.
The O's now have 36 players at Major League camp, including four non-roster invitees, in advance of Sunday's deadline to set the 25-man roster.
Casilla was competing for the second-base job and was also considered the front-runner for the utility job entering camp. But a pair of injuries kept him sidelined most of spring, and the club will now decide between Jemile Weeks, Jonathan Schoop and Steve Lombardozzi for both the second-base job and the utility spot. Ryan Flaherty will move to third base, with Manny Machado starting the season on the disabled list.
Can Schoop, the organization's top position player prospect, make the club as a bench guy, or is he looked at as a starter only?
"I think he can do both," manager Buck Showalter said. "Obviously, he probably starts at one position down at Norfolk, though he's capable of moving around. I feel comfortable with him at third or second, and he'll play a lot of short. That's why we try not to have guys in the Minor Leagues play one position in the infield, unless they're first basemen.
"I've got a pretty good idea of which way we're going to go."
Casilla will play shortstop at Triple-A Norfolk. Johnson, who will be part of Norfolk's rotation, pitched a scoreless inning in Wednesday afternoon's win against the Red Sox and allowed six earned runs over 10 innings this spring. Berry, part of a crowded outfield mix, went 8-for-35 in 22 games, with two doubles, a triple and five RBIs.
Showalter praised Urrutia for his improvement from a year ago.
"Keep in mind that last spring, we didn't know much about this guy," Showalter said of Urrutia, who got a late start in camp after defecting from Cuba. "Put yourself in where he was in his life, come on. I don't know if he's been this much defensively, but he's a lot better than the first time we saw him. He started playing [better] in the [Arizona] Fall League."
Gonzalez ready for season after final spring start
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez made his final start of Spring Training during the split-squad Orioles' 5-4 win against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He allowed four runs on seven hits -- including two homers -- over five innings.
The only clean inning Gonzalez had was the fifth. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks to lead off the fourth.
"The first inning was good, and then I started struggling a little bit towards the end," Gonzalez said. "But I made some good pitches when I needed to. It was a rough one out there. Fastball was cutting a lot. Couldn't really find it, but towards the end, it was better. Last two innings were better even though I gave up a couple of home runs.
"It was just one of those days," he said.
Gonzalez, who earned the win, improved to 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA in six spring games, five starts. He didn't get to his desired pitch count, but Gonzalez was satisfied with the 79 pitches (47 strikes) he threw.
"Yeah, the pitch count was fine," he said. "We wanted to get up to 90, but I was getting behind guys, walking a couple guys, hitting guys. But overall, it was better."
Gonzalez is set to start for the O's during their series against the Tigers in Detroit.
"I'm ready, ready to go," he said. "I'm excited for Spring Training to end and to start the season."
• Left-hander Johan Santana is scheduled to throw from a full mound on Thursday as he progresses from shoulder surgery.
• Right-hander Dylan Bundy threw from a half-mound for the first time on Wednesday as he progresses from Tommy John surgery. He had previously been throwing from flat ground.
• Over the final four innings, T.J. McFarland, Ryan Webb, Johnson and Evan Meek combined to hold the Red Sox scoreless, with one hit, one walk, and four strikeouts.
• Markakis, serving as the designated hitter, went 1-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI double against the Red Sox. He is batting .341 this spring.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.