By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
3:43 PM EST, February 26, 2013
With this year’s spring training longer because of the World Baseball Classic, the Orioles are pacing some of their pitchers a little slower.
Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Darren O’Day and Jim Johnson did not pitch through the first rotation of Grapefruit League games. Instead, they were scheduled to throw in a simulated game Tuesday morning at the Ed Smith Stadium complex while the team traveled to Bradenton for a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
High winds force their sessions inside, and instead of facing live hitters, they pitched against batters just standing in the box.
“It was weird throwing inside the cage,” Gonzalez said. “It was hot and humid. [With] guys just tracking the ball was a little different. We wanted to face some guys on the field, but it just didn’t work today.”
Hammel, who was sidelined with a right knee injury twice last season, threw 25 pitches — mixing in all five of his pitches — and is expected to make his first spring start Friday at home against the Pirates. Hammel said he would throw at least one inning and could be extended to a second.
“The knee is good,” Hammel said. “I’m off the mound, I’m building my pitch count and I’m using all my pitches, so I’m in good shape.”
Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July and then reaggravated the injury in September, said he asked pitching coach Rick Adair for one week before pitching in games so he could test his knee running in spikes. It was something he did after a previous surgery on his left knee.
“I haven’t done that all offseason, and I passed with flying colors there,” Hammel said. “I mean, it really feels good. I’ve done this enough times to know what I need to be ready. That gives me, what, six starts before we head out of here? Honestly that should be plenty of time for me to get ready.”
Gonzalez, who threw 220 innings last calendar year, including winter ball, threw 35 pitches in his session and is slated to make his spring debut Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.
He said he is also expecting to make six spring starts and reach 25 innings.
“It’s a little different this year, because last year I was playing winter ball,” Gonzalez said. “This year having that off is going to help me this season. I can’t wait to get on the mound and face some hitters.
The pitchers’ biggest test was throwing in the heat of the cages.
“It’s tough throwing in there,” Hammel said. “It’s like a sauna in the cages. I’d rather throw in hurricane winds.”
Around the horn
Wednesday night’s game against the Red Sox will be broadcast on MLB Network in the Baltimore and Washington markets. … Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who threw off a full mound Monday for the first time in 10 months, felt good the day after. … Right-hander Jair Jurrjens is scheduled to start Thursday’s road game against the Minnesota Twins. He will be followed by Kevin Gausman, who will go two innings, and Tommy Hunter, who could go two or three innings. … Chen and Brian Matusz are slated to pitch Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte. … Jurrjens is expected to start Tuesday’s game at Dunedin against the Toronto Blue Jays, while O’Day and Johnson are scheduled to pitch in the team’s exhibition game against the Spain WBC team on Wednesday. ... The Orioles will conduct three clinics for Sarasota-area youth on the main field at Ed Smith Stadium over the coming weeks. Clinics on March 2 and March 9 will be for pre-selected children from area Boys and Girls Clubs and the third, on April 13, is open to Sarasota County youth ages 8-14.
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