FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -The Orioles yesterday sent to the mound three pitchers who were coming back after long injury layoffs and got mixed results, but nobody was complaining after the team hammered the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-3, for its first victory of the Grapefruit League exhibition season.
Matt Albers, who has been rehabilitating a labrum tear since the middle of last season, pitched two perfect innings of relief, which has to be very encouraging after months of wondering whether he could come back from the shoulder injury without undergoing surgery. Reliever Chris Ray also did not give up a hit in an inning of work in which he threw nine pitches, including five strikes.
"It feels good to get back out there, definitely," Albers said. "[I threw] mostly fastballs. I threw one changeup and a couple of breaking balls, but mostly fastballs. I was working both sides of the plate pretty well."
Albers conceded that since the injury it takes him longer to get loose, but he said he doesn't think it'll be a problem if he wins a place in the starting rotation. Ray said his arm feels better than before the injury that forced him to have his elbow reconstructed.
"It hasn't felt this good since Little League," he said.
The Danys Baez starter experiment got off to a rocky start when the veteran right-hander struggled with his control and walked three straight batters with two outs in the first inning. He threw 34 pitches, including only 16 strikes, in his one inning of work - which was supposed to be two innings - but actually seemed pretty happy with his first competitive appearance since late in the 2007 season.
"I felt good," he said. "... It was a great feeling to be out there, but a weird feeling after so long."
Pitcher Brad Hennessey apparently will not require a magnetic resonance imaging on his sore elbow. The Orioles' medical staff does not believe, at this time, that there is any structural damage in the elbow, and he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
"I told him to tell me when he's 100 percent," manager Dave Trembley said. "We talked four or five times in the offseason, and he wanted to know that he would have an opportunity here. I told him to be honest with me and tell me when he's 100 percent and our deal will stay the same."
In the interim, Trembley said minor league prospect Brad Bergesen will take Hennessey's place in the rotation.
No pitching loans
Trembley and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa did some brainstorming yesterday morning and came up with a potential solution to the Orioles' overcrowded pitching situation and the Cardinals' shortage of arms in camp. They toyed with the idea of the Orioles lending some pitchers to the Cardinals on a spot basis to alleviate both problems.
It was an interesting and apparently unprecedented idea, but it was quickly quashed by Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.
"That's not going to happen," he said, calling the difference between him and his manager on the subject "a disconnect" and explaining that the team would add a couple of extra minor league pitchers to camp soon.
The idea wasn't presented to Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who said he would have been "open" to discussing it but considered it unusual.
Around the horn
Center fielder Adam Jones and pitcher Radhames Liz have agreed to terms on their 2009 contracts, not that there was any real doubt about their contract status. ... Trembley said reliever Kam Mickolio (groin strain) has been cleared for full activities.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.