By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
8:51 PM EDT, March 13, 2012
SARASOTA, Fla. —
Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel wanted to make an impression on his former team Tuesday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium.
Hammel, pitching in his second Grapefruit League start of the spring against a Rays team he debuted with, made just one mistake in his three innings against Tampa Bay. He allowed a second-inning solo homer to Matt Joyce but otherwise shut down the Rays' lineup in the teams' 7-7, 10-inning tie.
Joyce hit a 2-0 fastball over the right-field fence to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
"I don't really know these guys too much," said Hammel, who pitched for the Rays from 2006 to 2008 before being traded to the Colorado Rockies. "It's changed since I've been with them, their lineup, so I learned something there. I'll work [Joyce] in next time.
"Obviously, you want to show them something," Hammel said about pitching against the Rays. "I don't feel I have anything to prove to them. It's funny how baseball comes full circle. Obviously, it's a good test because we'll be seeing them a lot this year."
The only other base runner against Hammel was Carlos Pena, who reached on a first-inning walk. Hammel, who also struck out two, said he has been working on an adjustment in his delivery with pitching coach Rick Adair to help his upper half from turning from side to side when he throws.
"It was definitely a step forward," Hammel said. "Fastball command was much better. That's my emphasis this spring, and of the three innings, the first and the third were very good for me. The second, it seemed like I was working on my full counts, but I wasn't. I feel that things are coming along. The curveball was working for me today and the changeup, too."
Hammel has thrown five scoreless innings this spring, allowing just three hits.
Another step for Roberts
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, whose work this spring has been confined to the back fields of the Ed Smith Stadium Complex, he took a considerable step forward in his recovery from multiple concussions Tuesday by participating in pregame batting practice and fielding drills before the Orioles' Grapefruit League game against the Rays.
"I think my doctor would probably agree that getting in an environment where there's a lot going on, that's a big step because that's a part of the progression is trying to re-acclimate into those environments," Roberts said. "It's one thing to hit on the back field with three coaches shagging and another thing with all the guys out there, and people in the stands and the music going and all that sort of stuff. I think each hurdle we overcome is a big step, but that's certainly one that hopefully will be a big one."
Roberts, whose regimen is dictated by his doctors each day, said he's still not thinking about when he can play in a game.
"I really don't think about it too much," he said. "I think about today. That's it. I think about whether I'm close enough to take BP out there."
Markakis eager for at-bats
Right fielder Nick Markakis, who has been rehabilitating after offseason abdominal surgery, is slated to play in his first Grapefruit League game Wednesday at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While Markakis will be the Orioles' starting designated hitter, he is slated to make his first start in right field on Tuesday at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I don't think I'm far away at all," Markakis said. "I just need to ease my way into it and get a couple of games at DH under my belt and then move on out."
Both Markakis and manager Buck Showalter said Markakis doesn't need many spring training at-bats because he keeps himself in good condition.
"I'm just ready to get some at-bats in and get this thing under way," Markakis said. "I'm just looking to track some pitches and get my timing there."
Scott plays against Orioles
New Rays designated hitter Luke Scott played in just his second game this spring — and the first against his old team. When Scott, who was with the Orioles for four seasons before signing a free-agent deal with the Rays this offseason, was announced for his first at-bat, the crowd at Ed Smith Stadium applauded politely, with some "Luuuuke" chants mixed in.
Scott struck out against Hammel to end the first. He later flied to left and walked.
Attempting to come back from midseason shoulder surgery, Scott said he feels strong but is attempting to gain confidence in his swing. He has thrown catch from 140 feet but has yet to play the outfield while he concentrates on hitting.
Around the horn
Right-hander Willie Eyre left the team before batting practice Tuesday because his 3-year-old daughter, Lily, was found in a swimming pool. She was taken to a local hospital for X-rays and is OK. … The Orioles could make a second round of roster cuts Wednesday or Thursday. … Catcher Taylor Teagarden had a CT scan scheduled for Tuesday afternoon for his ailing back. He has already had an MRI and X-rays. He will miss some time, but how much is unclear. Showalter said, however, Teagarden's not at risk of not being ready for Opening Day. That makes the arrival of catcher Ronny Paulino — albeit three weeks late — critical. Paulino was the team's starting DH on Tuesday and singled in his first at-bat. … Left fielder Nolan Reimold returned from being hit in the jaw by a pitch Friday against the Rays. He hit an infield single in his first at-bat. … Look for the Orioles to get a look at utility candidate Ryan Flaherty at first base. … Right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom (back spasms) is scheduled to pitch Wednesday vs. the Pirates.
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