SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles are expecting Jonathan Schoop to have a huge 2016. Last year, Schoop missed nearly half the season with a right knee injury, and still managed to hit 15 home runs.
Schoop hit his third home run of the spring on Thursday as the Orioles edged the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 before 7,902 at Ed Smith Stadium.
The Orioles are now 6-14-4, but needed a pinch hit single from Rule 5 wunderkind Joey Rickard in the ninth inning to win it.
Rickard is now batting .388.
Schoop had two hits and he’s batting .370, but he’s not worried about the Orioles.
“The team is fine. The team is really good. We scuffled a little bit, the first two weeks of spring training, but we’re good,” Schoop said.
Schoop hopes he can join the Orioles’ parade of sluggers who have hit at least 30 home runs in a season.
Pedro Alvarez, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo have hit at least 30 in a season.
“It’s possible. They’ve done it already. I haven’t done it yet. I feel I can do it,” Schoop said.
The Orioles wanted to make sure Schoop worked hard to rehab his injured leg, and he did.
“I’m happy because I’m healthy. I feel great, getting my at-bats in and trying to get good at-bats, and trying to get ready for the season.”
Manager Buck Showalter thinks Schoop is in great shape.
“Not a whole lot different. He was pretty good last year. He’s maintained where he was. Jon’s a well-conditioned guy. [Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson] was telling me if you guys through cardio stuff, Jon would be right at the top. Jon is primed and ready to go,” Showalter said.
Trumbo hit his fourth home run of the spring, a two-run shot and Hardy hit his first, to straightaway center field in the seventh.
Schoop and Trumbo’s homers were hit off Pittsburgh starter Jonathon Niese, who worked six innings, and Hardy’s off former Orioles reliever Jorge Rondon.
The Orioles had a 5-2 lead heading into the eighth, but Darren O’Day, who’s had a rough spring, allowed three runs.
O’Day has given up seven runs in six innings for a 10.50 ERA. He and Britton both worked on consecutive days for the first time. Britton struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh, but O’Day gave up two hits and walked one while registering two outs.
Showalter said he’s not worried about the veteran, who signed a four-year, $31 million extension in December.
“Just second day, some pitches up. Nothing really that hard. Just a bunch of singles. Some deep counts. Nothing that I’m concerned about,” Showalter said.
Britton has allowed one run on three hits in seven innings. He’s struck out 11 and walked two.
“I’m trying not to get into relax mode but at the same time, still working on stuff. That way, I’m sharp right from opening day on. I think that’s my biggest goal last year, I feel like I wasn’t as sharp early in the year as I wanted to be. This year, I said: ‘Heck, I’m going to get ready as soon as I can,’” Britton said.
Showalter has been thrilled with how well Britton has pitched this spring.
“He was looking forward to today. Sometimes that second day is better than the first day as a reliever. It’s more of a reminder how this role has really fit him in all ways,” Showalter said.
Tyler Wilson started and was lifted after three innings. He allowed a home run to Matt Joyce in the first inning.
Wilson remains a contender to start the season with the Orioles if Kevin Gausman begins the season on the disabled list.
The cerebral Wilson allowed 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings, but allowed just four earned runs for an ERA of 2.92.
If you go smooth sailing through 15 innings in spring training, and then all of a sudden the first inning on Opening Day, you’ve got men on first and second with nobody out, how do you manage the game? That’s the ultimate goal in pitching. How do you get outs?” Wilson said.
NOTES: The Orioles acquired minor league left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later. Olmos, who was with the Orioles for 13 days in December, is 1-1 with a 5.21 ERA in 11 games with Miami and Seattle in 2013 and 2015. He’s the second left-hander acquired by the team in the last two days. Zach Phillips was signed on Tuesday. Olmos reports to minor league camp.
-Chris Tillman will pitch against the New York Yankees’ Ivan Nova on Friday. Yovani Gallardo pitches against Boston’s Clay Buchholz in Sarasota on Saturday.
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