When manager Buck Showalter wanted to catch a glimpse of last year's first-round draft pick, Cody Sedlock, he made sure to do so in a low-pressure situation, going to Short-A Aberdeen the evening following an Orioles day game to watch Sedlock throw a side session.
"I didn't want to get too close," Showalter said. "I don't like doing that with high-expectation guys. And I wanted to make sure I got there on a day he wasn't pitching."
Sedlock is no doubt on the fast track, set to open the season at High-A Frederick just 10 months after the Orioles made him the 27th overall pick out of Illinois. Showalter said he wants to ensure Sedlock doesn't receive added pressure during his progression through the minors, but at the same time believed he was ready to get his first taste of big league spring training Tuesday on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sedlock was one of eight minor league players added to the travel squad for Tuesday's game, but his debut was a rough one. He allowed four runs in a 22-pitch eighth inning, blowing a two-run lead in the Orioles' 7-5 loss to the Phillies. Sedlock allowed five of the eight batters he faced to reach base, yielding a two-run homer to Brock Stassi and a solo homer to Aaron Altherr.
He was hit around, but Sedlock's promise was clear as he displayed a fastball that sat at 94-95 on the stadium radar gun.
"Things like that could be good for you," Showalter said. "I don't think he needs it. He's a good kid. He'll learn from it. … I think the reason you saw him get back in the strike zone is the same reason you like him. It ain't the last tough inning he's gonna have in his career. It's a process here, and it's a part of it. Good size. Good delivery. It's kind of tough, too. When do you think is the last time he's relieved in the eighth inning? It's a whole different set. We tried to start him a little [earlier] than we do most guys just to give him enough time [to warm up]. He'll be fine. I remember [Kevin] Gausman and [Dylan] Bundy in their first couple outings, too."
Sedlock, who is attending the early minor league camp, has pitched just 27 professional innings as he went 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in nine starts for Aberdeen in 2016. But he's the most heralded player in last year's draft class, a group that includes left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin (second round) and outfielder Austin Hays (third round).
"The things they say about him are intriguing," Showalter said. "… The stuff, all that other stuff [he's got]. It's the other parts of it — the athleticism, the makeup, the lack of anxiety. We'll see if that plays here. It's a step. Everything's a step — instructional league after the draft, Aberdeen before that, minicamp instead of major league camp. Gives him an inning here or there. Go out and pitch, see where it takes him. It doesn't make someone a fast-tracker."
Bundy making first Grapefruit League start: The Orioles handled right-hander Dylan Bundy with kid gloves last spring, limiting his innings as he prepared for a relief role to open the season. But after Bundy spent the second half of last season in the team's starting rotation, enters the spring schedule ready to be stretched out like a regular starter.
Bundy's first start of the spring, Wednesday, at home against the Boston Red Sox, will be his first Grapefruit League start since March 9, 2013 —before Bundy's season was ended abruptly by elbow issues that led to Tommy John surgery and the subsequent injury problems that followed him for the next two seasons.
"I think he and [Gausman] are capable of going to another level because a lot of it we just don't know," Showalter said. "Kevin, maybe a little moreso, they have some things in their resume now that lend to really being in a comfort zone to do what they're capable of doing without thinking about innings or past surgeries. Dylan's ready."
Bundy appeared in nine Grapefruit League games last spring; five were one-inning outings. He never pitched more than two innings in an outing, which he did twice — his final two appearances of spring.
This spring will be much different as the Orioles groom him as a starter from the beginning.
"There's always uncharted territory with every young pitcher," Showalter said. "It may not be innings, but it might be the level they're pitching at. Everything is uncharted. That's what Gaus has kind of gotten behind. He's faced this competition. Dylan has a little bit."
Flaherty to return later this week: Orioles utility man Ryan Flaherty is confident he will return to game action Wednesday after taking a few days off with shoulder soreness in his throwing arm.
Showalter said he was leaning toward giving Flaherty one extra day of rest and playing him in one of the team's split-squad games Thursday.
"Unless it's a full-go ...I bet that's where I end up going," Showalter said.
Flaherty said before Tuesday's workout in Sarasota that he's had soreness for about five or six days.
"I was kind of going through it, and they were just like, 'Take a couple days and let it die down.' It feels fine. If I had to play, I could play."
Flaherty has seen more time at third base in games and workouts because starter Manny Machado has been working out and playing at shortstop to prepare for playing there in the World Baseball Classic. Starting shortstop J.J. Hardy is sidelined with back spasms.
Flaherty said he believes the increased number of longer throws across the diamond could have contributed to his soreness. Usually, he'd be rotating between second, short and third.
"I think one of the challenges of being a utility player, moving around, is you're throwing from a lot of different angles," he said.
Around the horn: 1B Trey Mancini had two hits in Tuesday's loss, rebounding from a three-strikeout game in his last start Saturday. Mancini also came off the bench on Monday and doubled. … RHP Gausman is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League start in Thursday afternoon's home split-squad game against the Minnesota Twins. … RHP Tyler Wilson will start the night road game against the New York Yankees in Tampa. … Reliever Darren O'Day is also scheduled to pitch in his first Grapefruit League game Thursday at home. RHP Brad Brach is scheduled to pitch an inning Wednesday at home against the Boston Red Sox.
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