No less than Orioles manager Buck Showalter, giving an interview in the middle of the game to the ESPN broadcast crew, said that he has not looked at a single stats sheet all spring. Not even the manager cares about spring training statistics, though the reporters that cover the team can't stop tweeting the batting averages of players like Steve Pearce, Lew Ford, and Brian Roberts. It's spring training. It doesn't count and the results don't seem to matter. They all get erased when the regular season begins.
Injuries, though, they still count and they still matter. You can't erase a knee injury when the regular season starts. Today, the Orioles may have lost Wilson Betemit for some length of time as he suffered what is being termed a right knee ligament sprain - though he'll be evaluated further and there could yet be a tear to be found.
Betemit, who was on base after walking in the 5th inning, took off on a pitch and at some point when running towards second base his knee bent in a way knees aren't supposed to bend. It was one of those injuries that makes you wince and clutch helplessly at your own knees. He went down in a heap and was rolling around in pain like every stereotype of a flopping European football player, with the key difference being that Betemit was actually in pain. Manny Machado popped out on the play and Betemit was doubled up, but that doesn't matter next to this injury.
Right now, we don't know how serious it is, but initial indications are that it's almost certain that Betemit will open the season on the disabled list. About the injury, Showalter told reporters after the game, "I have a heavy heart with Wilson." He will get an MRI tonight and Buck doesn't seem to expect good news.
The reporters seem to think this opens up a roster spot for Ryan Flaherty, who had a bit of an adventure in right field today, but the more games I watch in this Sarasota stadium, the less I think anything matters, because the wind out there is absurd. The ball gets into that jet stream and it can go anywhere, often out.
In what will probably prove to be his final audition for the roster before the decision on his status is made, T.J. McFarland was less than sharp. Buck hasn't looked at a stat sheet, so maybe he wasn't paying attention to the 3.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER outing and was looking for something about how McFarland looked while pitching.
Asked by the ESPN guys if he'd seen what he wanted to see from McFarland, he gave a cagey response about how "we like him, Cleveland likes him, a lot of teams would like to have a 23 year old lefty on their staff." Much like his boss, Dan Duquette, you're probably not going to get Buck to tell you any more than exactly what he wants to tell you.
Jim Johnson gave up two runs in the 6th inning and Pedro Strop gave up three runs in the 7th inning - which tied the score 9-9 at the time - and I think telling myself spring training doesn't count is a defensive impulse as much as anything at this point. Any tiny crack in the armor of the bullpen from last year could translate into a disaster for the team's chances of success. They only have to be just a little bit worse for 29-9 in one-run games to become something darker and more sinister.
But it's spring training, so it doesn't matter, right? Right!
Among the meaningless occurrences in today's game: someone named Sean Gleason pitched. The Red Sox starter was named Graham Godfrey, and in my head he talks like Iago from Aladdin. The Orioles hit five home runs, including two by Adam Jones. The ESPN broadcast crew gushed for about ten hours over Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., who pinch-hit and went 2-2 with two RBI. McFarland got five strikeouts. Barry Larkin shared Deion Sanders' philosophy on base-stealing: "If he kicks it up like a band director, you gotta go." Shane Victorino looked terrible (he's in the first year of a 3 year/$39M contract).
There are five more fake games to get through, including one game against a community college, and then the real thing gets underway. Tuesday's fake game, a road contest against the Twins, is one of those games that does not exist on the Baltimore airwaves - though if you're an MLB.tv subscriber, you can watch the Twins TV feed. The game will begin at 1:05pm and I may have to buy MLB.tv to get my Kevin Gausman fix. Actually, if I leave right now, I might make it to Fort Myers for the game. Bye!