SARASOTA, Fla. - The Baltimore Orioles are much more confident about their starting pitching this season than they've been in quite some time.
Entering spring training, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez seemed assured of starting spots. Through the first nine exhibition games, none of them seems to have anything to worry about.
Manager Buck Showalter skipped Hammel, Chen and Gonzalez through the first cycle of games, but this weekend featured all three, and each did acceptably.
On Sunday, Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings as the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies 12-3 before 6,245 at Ed Smith Stadium.
Tillman, who labored through 1 2/3 innings on Wednesday, was a little sharper on Sunday and he nearly escaped his scheduled three innings without a score. His final batter, Michael Young hit a wind-aided home run.
"I would have liked to finish that on a better note," Tillman said. "I felt much better than I did last time."
Gonzalez, who was buried in minor league camp last year, pitched his first major league exhibition game in six years, and he had no trouble with the Phillies, allowing just a walk in his two innings.
"He's not taking one pitch for granted," Showalter said.
"This guy, he's not assuming anything. When you've been where he is, Miguel's trying to make the club."
POWER DISPLAY: Matt Wieters drove in five runs with a three-run home and a two-run double, Conor Jackson had two home runs, and Jason Pridie had a two-run home run.
The Orioles scored four runs in the first and seven in the second.
Jackson and Pridie are both non-roster outfielders; Jackson can also play first base. It was Pridie's second home run in three days.
Showalter noted that the wind was blowing out on a chilly day for Florida.
"Good swings in the proper elements," Showalter said.
WEINER VISITS: Players Association head Michael Weiner visited the Orioles as part of his tour of all 30 major league camps.
One of the issues discussed was Commissioner Bud Selig's call for tougher penalties for drug offenders.
"Starting this off-season, we had substantial discussion among player leadership about whether the penalty structure we have is right-whether there should be increases-whether there should be a differential penalty for intentional or unintentional users," Weiner said.
"We had some dialogue even with the commissioner's office in the off-season that didn't lead to any changes, and I suspect that we'll have those discussions over the course of the year, but it's going to be a 2014 issue. We're not going to change the rules of the game in the middle of the season. In a sense, the drug testing season started with spring training."
MARKAKIS SITS: Nick Markakis was in the original lineup, but came up with neck spasms, so he was scratched. Showalter said he expects him to miss a few days.
The Orioles are off on Monday and play Toronto at Dunedin on Tuesday, a game Markakis wouldn't be expected to play.
"He couldn't move. Never had it before. He got better as the day went on," Showalter said.
INJURY UPDATE: Nolan Reimold expects to play Tuesday. Showalter is planning to use him as the designated hitter. On Friday, Reimold left the game with a sore right shoulder.
"It's just a kink I've got to work out," Reimold said.
Taylor Teagarden, who's been out with back spasms, is being cautious with his injury. He missed four months with a back injury last season.
Dylan Bundy, who was scheduled to pitch in Sunday's game, was scratched with a groin spasm, Showalter said.
COMING UP: The complex is closed on Monday. It's the first of three scheduled off days during spring training. Showalter has returned to Baltimore for a day to receive an award ... Steve Johnson is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday. Jair Jurrjens, Zach Clark, Mike Belfiore and Kevin Gausman are listed as probables to follow Johnson. The Blue Jays have scheduled J.A. Happ, Darren Oliver, Brad Lincoln, Steve Delebar, Esmil Rogers, Jeremy Jeffress and Neil Wagner.
ODDS AND ENDS: Pedro Strop left to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic after throwing a scoreless inning. ... Tsuyoshi Wada will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. ... Henry Urrutia will be introduced to the media on Wednesday.
- Major League Baseball
- Buck Showalter
- Baltimore Orioles
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Spring Training
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Chris Tillman
- Nolan Reimold
- Jason Hammel
- Wei-Yin Chen
- Nick Markakis
- World Baseball Classic
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Bud Selig
- J.A. Happ
- Conor Jackson
- Jeremy Jeffress
- Jair Jurrjens
- Brad Lincoln