The number one goal for spring training is to get through it without anybody getting hurt. Another situation of unknown seriousness cropped up for the Orioles on Sunday afternoon as they played their way through another spring training loss, an 8-7 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox. T.J. McFarland came out of Sunday's game earlier than scheduled due to what manager Buck Showalter termed a "tender elbow."
Showalter added to reporters that he could see something was off with McFarland in the fifth inning of the game, the second that McFarland worked. McFarland faced five batters in the inning before being pulled from the game. The first three in a row hit singles, and he walked in a run before being removed from the contest.
About all you can say for the O's and spring injuries is that at least thus far none of the star players have suffered any of them. McFarland joins Brian Matusz and Jimmy Paredes as players who figured to have a good shot to make the Opening Day roster who are getting shelved for part of spring. The O's and McFarland can only hope it's not more serious than a minor, one game kind of problem.
O's minor league shortstop Ozzie Martinez was also injured in the game. He collided with fellow infielder Garabez Rosa and came out of the game in the sixth inning. Martinez is going to get run through concussion tests before being cleared to resume any baseball action.
Through most of these spring losses, you could at least tell yourself that many of the struggling players won't factor into the big league picture this season. However, the O's had McFarland, Mike Wright, Chaz Roe, and Brad Brach each give up two runs in the game, so now you can only hope they're working off rust. Maybe they are.
Also in the "hopefully they're working off rust" category, Hyun Soo Kim went hitless again. Early in the game, radio broadcaster Jim Hunter praised him for at least not having struck out much, showing "patience and a good batting eye" - so naturally two of the three at-bats he had today were strikeouts.
One O's pitcher who didn't struggle was Dylan Bundy, who had a clean inning that went like this:
Bundy strikes out 2 while retiring the side in order in the 7th. Fastball 93-96 mph #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) March 6, 2016
I suspect it's a whole lot easier to have a good inning when you are facing the likes of Henry Ramos, Ryan LaMarre, and Danny Mars in a spring game. Two of those guys don't even have pictures on MLB.com. If Bundy had to run into Danny Jupiter instead, it might have been a different story.
There's certainly not any panic on the part of the O's. In an interview played during today's radio broadcast, Showalter noted that the plethora of early road spring games had cost them some instructional time, but things in the back half of spring training are more favorable with remaining at home, so they should straighten things out.
Four of the next six O's spring games will be in Sarasota. If that's really something that's hampering them, maybe they'll be able to iron whatever it is out. Though I'm not in panic mode yet, color me skeptical that a bunch of early road spring games are the reason why there are struggles.
Next up is a Monday afternoon game in Sarasota against the Twins. Although we live in a world where a robot drives itself around Mars and beams data back to Earth, we do not live in a world where every spring training game is on either television or the radio. There is no broadcast for tomorrow's game from either team, so if the O's do finally win, you'll only see or hear it if you're there at Ed Smith Stadium. Spring training is the worst.
Opening Day is 29 days away.