O's don't rule out outside help for second base

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Brian Roberts headshot.jpgWhile acknowledging that the Orioles are confident Brian Roberts will be ready for the start of the season, team president Andy MacPhail concedes that he is beginning to worry about the pace of his recovery.

“It’s getting to be something that’s on my radar screen, even though at
the present time our athletic staff feels like he’s going to be ready by
Opening Day. By now we have to start thinking about, ‘What if he isn’t
ready?'”

Roberts was diagnosed with a small herniated disk in his back last month and experienced a setback this week with a reaction to some anti-inflammatory medication. Currently suffering with “flu-like” symptoms, Roberts is expected to be sidelined from baseball activities through at least Thursday. As the regular season looms, MacPhail hasn’t ruled out seeking outside help if Roberts continues to face setbacks.

“We will see what’s out there,” he said. “Obviously, we have weekly
calls with our pro scouts, and we have to let them know what’s going on
in our camp. We might have to shift their focus a little bit from what
the initial menu was. And then, obviously, we are going to have to start
exploring more internal options as well.”

There isn’t much left in free agency, but looking at current internal options, Justin Turner could be a decent stopgap in a pinch. Turner, 25, was acquired from the Reds in the Ramon Hernandez trade in 2008. He doesn’t project to be a major league regular, however he has a .307/.373/.430 batting line over four seasons in the minors, doesn’t strike out often and won’t hurt you with the glove. Unfortunately, he’s currently nursing a foot contusion.

Of course, the real concern is if Roberts’ back problems will be a lingering issue throughout the season.
 

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.