SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta wasn’t as concerned with the numbers on the scoreboard in Wednesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Pirates as he was with the fraction-of-a-second change in his delivery.
Arrieta, making his second Grapefruit League start, yielded four runs on five hits over 2 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 11-5 loss to the Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium, but he said he’s still refining his mechanics after concentrating this spring on improving his time to the plate.
“My lower body and upper body were really out of sync, and the main reason that was [happening] was because now that I'm a lot quicker to the plate this year, I have to generate more tempo and more rhythm with my upper body,” he said.
“Now that I'm a 1.2 [seconds] to the plate as opposed to last year being a 1.6, there's just a timing there and you've got to find that happy medium. When your upper body starts clicking with your lower body, then things will kind of start falling into place. That's the big adjustment I have to make this spring is trying to get those two in sync."
After retiring the Pirates in order in the first inning – including strikeouts of Alex Presley and Andrew McCutchen – Arrieta allowed four straight hits, three singles and a double, to open a four-run second inning.
Arrieta, held to a pitch count, was pulled after 50 pitches.
Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis made his spring debut Wednesday in the DH position, hitting third. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a walk. He will take two days off before he makes his second start at DH, then will start in right field for the first time Tuesday.
“I’m happy where I am right now.” Markakis said. “I’m not too far ahead, and I’m not far back. I’m right where I want to be and just got to continue to get better and go out there and play.”
Reliever Jim Johnson, who has been battling back stiffness all camp, also made his spring debut and allowed three runs on four hits in an inning of work.
Zach Phillips, Matt Lindstrom and Pedro Strop threw scoreless innings for the Orioles.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Mark Reynolds hit their first homers of the season, both solo shots.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun