JUPITER, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Bud Norris has his spot in the rotation sealed, so this spring his pitching line isn't as important as maintaining his health.
Norris said his back flared up after his first Grapefruit League start – a four-run, one-inning outing against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday – so getting out of his second start feeling good was a victory.
Norris met his pitch count of 50 in the Orioles' 8-2 loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium on Thursday, allowing three runs – all on former Oriole Mark Reynolds' home run to left field – on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. Norris also walked three and hit a batter.
"I felt great," Norris said. "That's the key for me is getting out of there and just staying healthy. It's good to have some ups and downs, which I'm pretty happy about. Felt a little shaky from the windup. That's something I'm going to go work on in the next couple, but I felt good from the stretch.
"Slider was pretty good today. I threw some really good changeups. Fastball command obviously is something I need a lot more work on, but that's something we get out of camp. But coming out of there healthy was the No. 1 key for me again."
Norris allowed the first two batters to reach in the first and second innings but didn't allow a run in either frame. He loaded the bases in a 24-pitch first inning but escaped the threat with a fielder's choice. In the second inning, he induced a 5-4-3 double play ball to get himself out of trouble.
"I felt good the whole time and that's good to have the fastball behind me and my body feel good, my back feel good," Norris said. "I was happy with that. It was good to work some counts, get in some deep counts, get the double play bases loaded, stuff like that. Just to kind of compete and get back out there. It's good to kind of get the train going again, and I'm happy with the results, to get off the mound healthy."
Norris has allowed seven runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings in two spring outings, but he said Thursday's outing was a step forward.
"I felt like I was a deer in the headlights a little bit last time, just getting back out there and guys were jumping all over first-pitch fastballs," Norris said. "I got to mix some early breaking balls into some counts, and some changeups, too, so that's part of the game. It's hard to get comfortable. A lot of these guys are grinding for spots and they're trying to get some hits, so they're swinging at fastballs, which is fine, but I was really happy with the results."
Third baseman Jimmy Paredes continued his strong spring at the plate with an RBI double in the first inning. He is 6-for-16 this spring.
Two former Orioles farmhands played a role in the Cardinals' win. Michael Ohlman doubled, drove in a run and scored twice, and second baseman Ty Kelly drove in Ohlman in the fifth inning with a single off Dylan Bundy.
Veteran left-hander Mark Hendrickson allowed three runs on two hits in 1/3 inning of work.