SARASOTA, Fla. –  Orioles pitchers Jason Hammel and Tommy Hunter threw in separate minor league games Friday at Twin Lakes Park to get their work in, but the free-swinging Tampa Bay Rays Class-A hitters they faced didn't help.

With the Orioles facing mostly American League East opponents and the Minnesota Twins – their first opponent in the regular season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has sent some of his starting pitchers to the team's minor league complex to pitch so they won't get overexposed.


But the pitchers who have been there have found out that hasn't been easy to get into a steady tempo and work counts because the minor leaguers are swinging at nearly every pitch.

"You can't really get deep enough in the counts with them to work on some of the things you want to work on -- i.e. like striking people out," said Hammel, who threw six innings and 86 pitches against the Rays' minor leaguers in a Single-A game. "If you want to work on a slider back foot or a curveball in the dirt or something like that, you can't get there because they swing at the first three pitches, no matter what.

"But you just get your work in, just treat it like that," Hammel said. "There were some good at-bats where I was able to do some things that I wanted. And if we had short innings, you just stay out there and work on some other stuff. Whatever level you're at, there's still a batter in the box and you've still got to throw strikes."

Hunter threw 51 pitches in a separate minor league game and encountered the same trouble

"I had one two-ball count and I think I had two or three three-ball counts. It was tough. You've got to go and you've got to get your work in and make sure you're throwing your pitches. There were a few times, throwing balls in the dirt you can definitely get a few strikeouts, but it's just not going to play."

Hammel will pitch in another minor league game on Wednesday or Thursday.

Meanwhile, today left-hander Wei-Yin Chen starts today's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Here are the starting lineups for that game:

Nate McLouth LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
JJ Hardy SS
Nolan Reimold LF
Manny Machado 3B
Steve Pearce DH
Wei-Yin Chen LHP

Ben Revere CF
Jimmy Rollins SS
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Michael Young 3B
Domonic Brown RF
John Mayberry, Jr. LF
Steven Lerud C
Aaron Cook RHP

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