FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - With several of Hayden Penn's competitors for the open rotation spots struggling with injuries or ineffective, the Orioles right-hander's chances to stick with the club get better by the day.
Penn turned in three scoreless and one-hit innings in an intrasquad game yesterday despite pitching with a cut on his finger that prevented him from throwing his breaking ball in his final inning of work. It was an encouraging performance for the Orioles' one-time top pitching prospect, who is out of options and might need a solid spring to stay with the organization.
"I've seen him better when he pitched for me in the minor leagues, but I'll be honest with you, he's getting back to that," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He needs to continue doing what he's doing. He's improved. He's gotten our attention. He needs to carry it over and then repeat it."
Penn struck out one, walked none and allowed just a third-inning, two-out double to catcher Guillermo Rodriguez. He said he expects the cut on his finger to be better by the time he takes the mound next for another important outing in determining his chances of making the roster.
"I'm going to come out here and pitch my butt off and, you know what, if it's not good enough, it's not good enough," Penn, 23, said. "I'm going to really try to make this team and show that I deserve to be here."
Danys Baez, another candidate for the rotation, started opposite Penn and struggled again, allowing three hits and walking three in three innings.
Simon, at last
Right-handed pitcher Alfredo Simon, whose spring arrival has been delayed because of visa issues in his native Dominican Republic, is expected to take his physical this morning and participate in his first workout with the team either later today or tomorrow.
Simon, a long shot to make the club, was due in Florida late yesterday, nearly three weeks after Orioles pitchers and catchers reported to spring training camp.
The Orioles still aren't sure when Rich Hill will get onto the mound again in a game. Hill, who was scratched from making Sunday's start because of left elbow stiffness, said a magnetic resonance imaging taken on his elbow showed no structural damage but did reveal swelling and fluid buildup.
He's scheduled to play catch today, after which Trembley said the club will have a better idea when he'll be ready for a game.
The Orioles announced yesterday that any fan can get a free ticket to a game this season at Camden Yards during the month of his birthday by registering at orioles.com/birthday. The offer does not include tickets for games against the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. Fans with birthdays from January through March can get a ticket to an April game; those born between October and December are eligible for a September game.
Around the horn
The Orioles have agreed to terms with all their pre-arbitration players except Jeremy Guthrie. ... Former Oriole and current Washington National Daniel Cabrera is scheduled to face his former team Friday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. ... Dennis Sarfate, Jamie Walker and George Sherrill made their spring debuts yesterday, pitching one inning in the intrasquad game. ... Adam Eaton, who was signed Sunday, is expected to take part in today's workout, his first with his new club. ... The Orioles will play the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team in an exhibition game today at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto will start for the Dominican Republic opposite Koji Uehara.