By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
8:46 PM EST, March 5, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.
In the Orioles' spring pitching competition, right-hander Alfredo Simon is an arm without a role.
While most of the 29 pitchers in Orioles camp have a predetermined role they are competing for, Simon doesn't. He came up as a starter and made 16 starts for the Orioles last season. But before 2011, he was almost exclusively a reliever as a major leaguer.
In the Orioles' pitcher version of "Survivor," manager Buck Showalter gave Simon the first opportunity to audition in Monday afternoon's Grapefruit League opener against the Rays. Simon made the most of the opportunity, allowing just one hit through two shutout innings in a 3-1 win at Charlotte Sports Park.
"I feel very good," Simon said. "I tried to work all my pitches and I just felt comfortable controlling my breaking ball and slider no matter what count it is.[Monday] I tried to be focused and tried to dominate with all my pitches."
Simon mixed his pitches well in striking out two Rays batters, including getting third baseman Matt Mangini swinging on a nasty slider.
"I was trying to work on my slider because I know sometimes I know the hitter will look for a fastball because I'm a power pitcher," Simon said. "When I get a 2-2 count I can throw a slider for a strike. It worked really well today."
Simon was 3-8 with a 4.96 ERA in 16 starts last season, and was 1-1 with a 4.64 ERA in 21 1/3 relief innings.The Orioles plan to try Simon out as a starter, initially. Asked which role he is more comfortable with, he answered easily.
"I don't know if I'm going to be a starter or reliever but for me, I think it works better for me to be a starter because I think I can go deep in the game," Simon said. "I can throw seven, eight innings . All my career I was a starter, I was never a reliever before. So I think it's better for me to be a starter. I'm more comfortable there. "
Simon is one of 10 players in camp who are out of options, so if he doesn't figure into the Orioles' plans, his spring might serve as a tryout for another team.
Adair OK after batting practice scare
Orioles minor leaguer Travis Adair, brought up to travel with the team for its Grapefruit League opener against the Rays, is OK after he was hit in the side of the head by a batted ball during batting practice.
Showalter said Adair, the son of Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair, was behind a batting practice screen near second base when he was hit on the back left side of his head.
He initially received treatment in the visiting clubhouse of Charlotte Sports Park, but was taken to a local hospital to have a precautionary CT scan.
The results of the scan were normal and Adair was discharged and returned to Sarasota with the team.
Rick Adair said his son had a major concussion when he was 19, so he will monitor Travis closely.
"My wife is here and she's a nurse, so he'll stay with us [Monday night]and we'll wake him up every hour," Rick Adair said.
Big names in sim game
Three rehabbing pitchers —right-hander Tommy Hunter, left-hander Zach Britton and right-hander Jim Johnson — will pitch in a simulated game Tuesday at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex.
Hunter, who is battling lower stiffness, will pitch two innings Tuesday and is then slated to throw three innings in a 'B' game on Sunday.
It's a big step for Britton (left shoulder inflammation) and Johnson (lower back discomfort), who have spent the spring limited to throwing progressions. Each will throw one inning and also possibly throw again in Sunday's 'B' game.
"It will be good to get [Johnson]and Britton to that point," Showalter said.
Around the horn:
Orioles pitchers tallied 14 strikeouts in their win over the Rays. Miguel Socolovich struck out four in two scoreless innings, while Zach Phillips (two scoreless innings) and Pedro Strop (one run in one inning) each struck out three. Brad Bergesen also struck out two in two scoreless innings. … Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (left elbow soreness) threw long toss from 120 feet and then threw from a half-mound. "That's a real positive step for him, so he felt good and we'll see where the next step is for him," Showalter said. "Let's see how everything is (Tuesday)." … Right-hander Willie Eyre (groin) threw from a mound Tuesday morning. "Willie is getting ready to get back in the mix," Showalter said. … Orioles top prospect Manny Machado made his spring debut in the eighth inning of Monday's day game as a defensive replacement at short. He later popped up to second in his only at bat. … Orioles first baseman Nick Johnson started the day game at DH. Showalter said he will be eased into first base duties given his injury history.
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