The Baltimore Orioles sent two players to the World Baseball Classic to showcase their talents to the world: Adam Jones and Pedro Strop. Jones played for team USA while Strop represented his native Dominican Republic.
Jonesy played a key role in the Americans’ victory over team Canada. With USA down 3-2 heading into the eighth inning, Jones ripped a two-run double to put USA ahead for good as they went on to win 9-4, advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic, and knock Canada out of the tournament. Over the tournament, Jones hit .182 with four runs batted in during six games.
Strop has been downright dominant during the WBC. In four games, Strop has pitched 4.2 innings in relief and has allowed only two hits, while striking out five and walking none. Strop also has earned three wins and two holds.
Strop had pitched well for the O’s in his three spring training outings as well, throwing three scoreless innings and striking out five while walking only one and allowing one hit. Strop seems to be building off of his strong 2012 season in which he became the setup man for closer Jim Johnson. Strop went 5-2 with Baltimore in 2012 while posting an earned run average of 2.44 in 70 games.
Jones looks to be off to a slow start overall. When his WBC stats are off the table, Jones has played in four preseason games so far, hitting .091 in 11 at-bats. Jones is looking to continue the success he had in 2012 when he hit .287 with 32 home runs and 82 runs batted in for the O’s.
Currently the O’s lead the Grapefruit League with a 13-6 record thanks to the hot hitting of Matt Wieters, who is hitting .500 with three home runs and 12 runs batted in 24 at-bats. Left fielder Lew Ford is also playing well, hitting .483 in 29 at-bats with two home runs and six stolen bases. Left fielder Steve Pearce is also having a great spring, as he leads the O’s in home runs with four and is also tied with Wieters for the team lead in runs batted in with 12. Pearce is also hitting an impressive .393.
Dylan Bundy had a great spring training, allowing only one earned run in eight innings pitched, but will start the season in the minors, beginning the 2013 season in Double-A Bowie.
Three pitchers who are looking to improve on their 2012 seasons are all having great springs: Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter. Arrieta has posted an earned run average of 2.38 in 11.1 innings, while Matusz and Hunter both have averages of 2.70 in their 10 innings of work each.
There seems to be plenty of competition within the O’s this year, and Buck Showalter wouldn’t have it any other way. Hopefully this competition—and winning—can carry over to the regular season.
by Andy Mindzak