Jurrjens can't opt out until June

Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, who technically is in the mix for the final spot in the rotation but is unlikely to make the 25-man roster unless several other pitchers suffer injuries, pitched his best game of the spring. He entered in the fifth inning in relief of Johnson and pitched the rest of the game.

Jurrjens allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out three in five scoreless innings for the win.

"That's as good as I've seen him today. Regardless of which hitters [it] was against and all that other stuff, he was in command," Showalter said. "That's pretty solid right there. Down with everything with a couple exceptions. Pretty impressive."

Jurrjens, a 2011 All-Star when he was with the Atlanta Braves, originally signed a major league deal with the Orioles, but the club had concerns after his physical and eventually the sides agreed on a minor league contract. He can't opt out of the deal until June 15, according to an industry source.

Markakis could hit live BP Sunday

Having been cleared to resume baseball activities, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis (neck) ran, threw and hit off a tee Friday. He is expected to hit soft toss Saturday and perhaps face live pitching from coaches Sunday, Showalter said.

Markakis hasn't played since March 1, when he was 0-for-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was scratched from the starting lineup on March 3 with neck stiffness. After an MRI, Markakis was diagnosed with a small disk herniation in his neck.

Markakis, who last season needed just 24 spring at-bats to return from offseason abdominal surgery, said he doesn't feel rushed to get a lot of at-bats in order to be ready for the regular season. Markakis has 12 at-bats this spring and thinks there are enough opportunities for him to be ready for Opening Day, which is a little more than a week away.

"I think the way they have it planned out, I can always go over to the minor league [camp] and get ABs," Markakis said. "I'd like to get into three or four games before [camp ends], and that would put me at around 25 at-bats heading into the season. That's if we don't have any setbacks, and I hope we don't have any."

Around the horn

Right-hander Chris Tillman will start Sunday's Grapefruit League game in Bradenton, while left-hander Brian Matusz will pitch in a minor league game at Twin Lakes Park. It will be Tillman's first Grapefruit League outing since March 3 after dealing with abdominal soreness. … Ed Flaherty, the head baseball coach at the University of Southern Maine and the father of Orioles infielder, Ryan, won his 800th game, becoming the 13th baseball coach in NCAA Division III history to reach that milestone. He is 800-370-4 in a 28-season coaching career. … Reliever Mark Hendrickson, who was away from the team due to the birth of his daughter, is expected to return Saturday. … Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (elbow surgery) threw another side session Friday.


Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this report.

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