At this time of year, pitchers like to say they are right on schedule as they navigate through the drawn-out process that is spring training.

Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel put a different spin on the old cliché after his four-inning stint in Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

“Actually I think I am ahead of schedule. I feel strong,” Hammel said. “My legs feel real strong and the arm today finally felt that life. ... Once I got in the fourth inning I felt pretty much as good as I did in the first inning. So I’m definitely moving along right on schedule, and maybe a little bit ahead.”

It was the third appearance of the spring for Hammel, who is expected to be the club’s Opening Day starter. He threw four innings, allowing five hits, no walks and two earned runs while striking out four. Both runs scored in the fourth – one on a wind-aided double.

“I actually was pretty happy with everything -- minus the last inning on a ball that probably would have been caught minus the wind,” Hammel said. “But overall everything is good. I feel pretty good with it.”

While dealing with a misty rain, Hammel faced a trio of Orioles hitters who were looking for extra at-bats – Taylor Teagarden, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit – each of the four innings. He also threw to a few Orioles minor leaguers.

The club wanted to keep Hammel on his regular schedule, so he said he treated it as a game situation. And he said he felt better than his last outing – his second of the spring, which he says is typically his worst because his arm is still gaining strength.

“If you come in and want to get some work done, it’s fine. There’s no reason to come in and not work on something,” Hammel said. “So it’s what I’ll be doing all spring, is fastball command with the two-seamer and I was really happy with that today. Ground balls and a couple good changeups again today. The slider and curveball are where they need to be, so I really have no negative thoughts about today at all.”