Orioles offense comes to life

SARASOTA, Fla. - For the first 14 games of spring training, the Baltimore Orioles bats had been quiet. Just twice in 14 games had the Orioles scored more than five runs, and in 11 of those games, they'd scored three runs or fewer.

In the last three games, the bats have been sizzling-scoring 29 runs. On Saturday, the Orioles scored a spring-high 12 runs and had 17 hits in their 12-3 win over the Washington Nationals before 6,665 at Ed Smith Stadium.

It was their third straight win, and their record is 9-9-4.

The Nationals haven't won in 11 games; they're 0-10-1, and on Saturday committed four errors and saw their starting pitcher, Edwin Jackson, whom the Orioles contemplated signing, allow 10 runs-seven earned-and 11 hits before manager Davey Johnson yanked him after 3 2-3 innings.

Matt Wieters was 4-for-4 and had six RBIs. Adam Jones and Robert Andino each had three hits.

"This is around the point of the spring where the bats start catching up with the pitching," manager Buck Showalter said.

He pointed out that when the regulars have 30 at-bats, they start getting comfortable, and the pitchers lag.

Wieters had just a .129 average before the game, and now he's a full 100 points higher. Jones is now batting .405.

On Mar. 12, the Orioles were batting just .201. They're now hitting a much healthier .248.

Jake Arrieta, who could be the Opening Day starter, had to sit during a four-run third and a five-run fourth, but still managed to give up just four hits and a run to the Nationals in five innings.

He was very pleased to get some offensive support.

"We've got a really good offense. Guys are swinging the bats good," Arrieta said. "Yeah, when the offense does something like that, it never really surprises me."

Arrieta last threw four innings in a minor league game on Monday, but said he didn't feel quite right.

"Just one of those days in spring where you go out and feel a little bit off physically. Wasn't tired or didn't feel bad. Felt a little uncomfortable at the start of the game," Arrieta said.

"I settled in a little more at the game went on."

Arrieta struck out two and walked one.

ROBERTS' FUTURE: Showalter was talking with Brian Roberts on the field before the game. They discussed options. Will Roberts stay behind in Sarasota when the Orioles leave on Apr. 4? Or will he travel with the team?

Showalter doesn't expect Roberts to play in one of the remaining 10 games in Florida.

"I would lean that way - that he's not going to," Showalter said. "It's in Brian and the doctor's hands. He's done real well this spring. Sometimes you get caught up in the lure of changing things, and I'm not going to with him."

Showalter likes the possibility that Roberts, who's in the 11th month of his recovery from his second concussion, will play sometime this year.

"We're starting to go down that road," Showalter said. "I'm excited about his progress. We continue to take it each day. Brian and the doctors are happy with where he is."

WILLIS GETS A "D": Dontrelle Willis made his Orioles debut in the sixth inning, and it wasn't a good one. He walked the first three batters he faced. Two scored. The inning was the first Willis, who signed on Tuesday, had thrown in nine days.

WADA ON TUESDAY: Showalter said that he expected Tsuyoshi Wada to face Minnesota on Tuesday. Wada has not yet pitched at home, and he's trying to avoid Wei-Yin Chen facing the Twins for the second time in five days. Minnesota plays in Baltimore for the first three games of the season.

Chen may pitch in a minor league game instead.

COMING UP: The Orioles play the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater on Sunday. Brian Matusz, Pedro Strop, Pat Neshek and Zach Phillips are scheduled to pitch for Baltimore. Roy Halladay will face the Orioles for the second time in five days.