Showalter plays cat and mouse with pitchers

O's face division rivals in last week of spring, first week of regular season

Showalter plays cat and mouse with pitchers

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Orioles played Tampa Bay on Monday. They open the regular season against the Rays on April 6. Two days earlier they played the Yankees, another division rival.

It's not entirely a coincidence, then, that Zach Davies was on the mound at Charlotte Sports Park on Monday while Wei-Yin Chen stayed behind to pitch in a Minor League game in Sarasota, Fla. Or that Tyler Wilson threw against the Yankees on Saturday.

Most of that, Buck Showalter said, is to take a look at young pitchers like Davies, who aren't expected to make the team. But there is an element of not letting upcoming opponents, especially division rivals, get an extra look at the pitchers they'll be facing when the games count.

"It's both, [but] the keep away is a lot less," the manager said. "We want to be able to have [the established pitchers] pitch in places we know they're going to get the innings and the environment where you get the pitch count. Tampa's not always going to cooperate with that here. That's a lot of it."

The fact that these are both teams the Orioles will play in the first week of the season does play a part in the thinking, he admitted.

"The way the schedule-makers challenge us with the schedule, playing teams we're going to open with, it's tough," Showalter explained. "There are ways around it, but nobody but the teams look at it as a priority."

As it turned out, Davies held the Rays to one run on five hits while striking out four in his 3 1/3 innings Monday.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.