Visas snag Pie, Simon

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Outfielder Felix Pie was a no-show for the first full-squad workout yesterday. The Orioles confirmed that he is having visa problems in the Dominican Republic and that there is no timetable for his arrival in camp.

Manager Dave Trembley said he doesn't expect Pie's absence to be a big problem if it lasts only a few days and added he's hopeful it does not stretch into the exhibition season, which begins Wednesday.

"I don't know when he's going to get here," Trembley said. "I haven't been told. We got time. Let's get him here as soon as he can, let's get him into the program, let's get him comfortable with his new surroundings, and let's get him acclimated to his new teammates and coaches. There's really not a whole lot I can say or do about it until he gets here."

Pie is the second Orioles player to have trouble getting into the country this spring. Pitcher Alfredo Simon also is still in the Dominican working through a visa situation and might be delayed for another week. His absence is less problematic for the club because he pitched right up through the Caribbean Series and probably doesn't need as much time to get into shape as some of the pitchers who hadn't been throwing regularly.

Infielder Jolbert Cabrera was late getting in for yesterday's workout, but Trembley indicated it was a family issue.

Hill gets extra attention

Newly acquired pitcher Rich Hill was on the practice mound at 8:30 a.m. yesterday, getting in extra work with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Alan Dunn. The Orioles hope that reuniting Hill with two coaches he worked with earlier in his career will help him get past serious control issues.

Hill said he already feels that he has made progress because of the relationship, and that the bullpen session was very encouraging.

Though Hill says his control problems are rooted in a back injury that dogged him last year, it seems apparent there are mechanical issues that Kranitz and Dunn are trying to correct. If they succeed, he could be a key addition to the pitching staff and open the season as the No. 3 starter.

Markakis ready to go

Right fielder Nick Markakis has a new look - he has let his curly hair grow out since last year - and a new $66.1 million contract, but he says he's the same guy he has always been and is looking forward to the start of a new season.

"I'm excited," he said. "Being in spring training is always exciting. You've got new faces everywhere, and you're ready to get things rolling."

If the new six-year deal has identified Markakis as the face of the Orioles' youth movement, he says he is not going to let it put extra pressure on him to live up to it or the added leadership role that comes with being the highest-paid player on the team.

"I'm not really looking at it like that," he said. "I'm going to keep the same head on and go out there and play hard ... go out there and try to help the team and not change anything."

Medical report

Reliever George Sherrill was back to full participation yesterday after missing a day of conditioning drills with a sore hamstring. ... Pitcher Scott Chiasson was kept home another day with a virus. The Orioles do not want a repeat of last year, when the flu ravaged the clubhouse early in training camp. ... Kam Mickolio continues to nurse a groin strain.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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