SARASOTA, Fla. ——When the Orioles finished their largest round of spring cuts Monday, left-hander Troy Patton was still in the clubhouse, still hanging on to a roster spot.
It's unfamiliar position for the 26-year-old reliever, but at this point in his career, he'll take it.
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Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St, Sarasota, FL 34237, USA
Patton, who was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 20 games with the Orioles last year, has not allowed a run in 91/3 innings this spring. He threw a perfect frame Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, tossing all nine pitches for strikes.
But his performance this spring might not be enough to guarantee him a big league job. He is basically battling fellow lefty Zach Phillips for a spot in the bullpen, and Phillips has allowed just two runs in 101/3 innings.
Phillips has had slightly better numbers against left-handed hitters this spring, but it's hard to read anything into such small sample sizes.
"They've both pitched well here," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think both have done the things to continue to make us think good things about them. I like the fact that both of them can defend themselves against right-handed hitters."
Showalter said no determination has been made about how many lefty relievers — or which ones — he will take north when the season begins. Dana Eveland and Tsuyoshi Wada also could pitch out of the bullpen, depending on the makeup of the starting rotation.
"You could make a case for three [left-handers] or one or none," Showalter said.
Patton's chances of making the team are likely enhanced by the fact that he has no minor league options remaining, meaning that if the Orioles want to send him to the minors, he'll have to clear waivers first. Phillips can be sent to the minors without being put on waivers.
Given that Patton is a young left-hander who has had some big league success, he likely would be claimed by another organization. But Patton doesn't want to think about that.
"It's a numbers game. I'm not an idiot. I can add, and there are a lot of pitchers still left here. So if something happens to me and I am somewhere else, then it happens. They've only got spots for 11, maybe 12 guys," Patton said. "I know it is hard to get down to those numbers. There are casualties all along the way."
Flaherty not resting easy
When the Orioles sent Steve Tolleson and Matt Antonelli out of camp Monday, it left one candidate remaining for the club's utility infielder position: Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Flaherty.
Heading into camp, Flaherty was considered the favorite for the job since the Orioles would have to offer him back to the Chicago Cubs if they can't keep him on their 25-man roster.
And Flaherty has done everything to earn the job, playing every position in the field besides center field, catcher and pitcher while putting up respectable offensive numbers (one homer, eight RBIs and a .261 average).
But the rookie isn't getting too excited yet.
"There's so much you can do with a roster and stuff like that," he said. "Like I said from the get-go, all you can do is control what you can control, keep going out there and playing and until they tell you one way or the other. You try not to think much about it."
Monday was bittersweet for Flaherty. Although his stiffest competition left camp, so did the two guys he bonded with the most in Tolleson and Antonelli.