FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Mark Hendrickson finally provided the Orioles with some good news on the pitching and injury front. The left-hander, who has been sidelined this spring with lower-back and hip pain, pitched three scoreless innings yesterday in an intrasquad game at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
Hendrickson, signed as a free agent this offseason to give manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz more flexibility, allowed two singles and hit a batter but walked none and threw 24 of his 38 pitches for strikes.
"I liked what I saw," Kranitz said. "Obviously, No. 1, he threw strikes and his stuff really plays. He had a better fastball than I thought he was going to have, and he threw all his pitches. He mixed them all up. He fielded his position. He did a really nice job."
Hendrickson has pitched in only one Grapefruit League game, and that was Feb. 27, when he allowed three runs (one earned) and five hits over two innings against the Florida Marlins. He acknowledged that yesterday was an important step for him.
"I felt pretty good the first two innings," Hendrickson said. "The third inning, I got a little stretched out and I wasn't really happy with where I was at, but that's a normal thing. All in all, I'm happy. You don't want to be locked in now. You always want to peak at the right time."
Although Hendrickson hasn't been ruled out for a spot in the rotation, the Orioles have made it clear they would prefer he pitch out of the bullpen in long relief.
"He's going to get enough innings to where if there is a need [to start], he'll be able to do it," Kranitz said. "I just sense that he's a very valuable guy to us as a bullpen guy."
Congrats in order
Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis and his wife, Christina, had their first child, a boy, on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Taylor Jason Markakis weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce. He was named after Markakis' friend Taylor Scott Randahl, who died in 2000 in a biking accident.
Trembley said Markakis will rejoin the team tomorrow.
No worry over Guthrie
Neither Trembley nor Kranitz watched Jeremy Guthrie struggle for Team USA against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night because the MLB Network was not available where they were staying. However, neither appeared troubled by the staff ace's line: two-plus innings, four earned runs, seven hits and two walks.
"I think the positive things are, one, he's got his pitch count up, and, two, he threw strikes," Trembley said. "To me, I'll take that as a positive, and knowing his makeup, he won't get affected by the line. He's out there getting his work in."
With Team USA in Miami for the next round of the WBC, Guthrie could stop by Orioles camp at some point in the next couple of days.
Around the horn
Trembley has switched the team's day off from March 25 to Tuesday because of the consecutive trips to Fort Myers on Sunday and Monday. ... In yesterday's intrasquad game, Chris Tillman pitched three innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. Jake Arrieta allowed one run in two innings, retiring the final six batters he faced. ... Adam Eaton and Alfredo Simon will make their Grapefruit League debuts for the Orioles today in split-squad games against the St. Louis Cardinals. One game will be held at 1:05 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, and the other will begin at 7:05 p.m. at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Trembley and the coaching staff will be at both.