Right-hander Jason Garcia still is learning the speed and nuances of the majors, but in his first two appearances, he has shown glimpses of why the Orioles took him in the Rule 5 draft.
"If he can get going and get strike one, he has a chance to have some success," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the former Boston Red Sox prospect, who was acquired in exchange for cash considerations from the Astros. "I was proud of him."
Garcia, 22, threw a scoreless inning Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field and was the most effective pitcher in Friday's 12-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing just one run on two hits in 22/3 innings, with two strikeouts and two walks. He needs to pitch well, too, because the Orioles must keep him on the roster all season or offer him back to the Red Sox.
"It's a pretty cool feeling to realize when you make [the majors], but now I'm just trying not to think about that too much," Garcia said. "Just got to work and stay here now."
Hardy: Watching opener 'stinks'
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was in uniform at Camden Yards on Friday and was introduced to the home-opener crowd. But because he's on the DL with a strained muscle in his left shoulder, he couldn't play.
"I'd much rather be out there," Hardy said. "This is always a fun day. The fans — it's a great atmosphere. It just stinks not being able to go out there and play."
Hardy took grounders and tested his backhand Friday and had no discomfort. After swinging a fungo bat Thursday, which is thinner, he planned to swing a regular bat Friday. Hardy could start his rehabilitation assignment Tuesday at High-A Frederick or Thursday at Double-A Bowie.
"There are so many things that factor in. Weather, where [the Keys] are at, where Bowie is at, how I am feeling," Hardy said. "There are a lot of things that factor in, and we don't know the answers yet."
Hardy said he hopes to play in a minor league game as early as Tuesday, but added, "We still have to take it day by day and see how I feel. I'm not putting a time limit on it."
50 years later, Palmer still has it
Hall of Famer Jim Palmer threw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday and, as is his way, didn't cut corners. Palmer, 69, went to the top of the mound, then the pitching rubber, and threw a strike to former Orioles teammate Rick Dempsey.
Palmer, the franchise's greatest pitcher, was the obvious choice for the home opener: Friday will mark the 50th anniversary of his first major league outing, a relief appearance against the Red Sox at Fenway Park when he was just 19. Palmer won a franchise-best 268 games in 19 seasons with the Orioles and entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
The Orioles presented Palmer, nicknamed Cakes, with a glove-shaped cake from SugarBakers Cakes in Catonsville. The club also donated $50,000 to Autism Speaks in Palmer's honor.
Around the horn
Showalter said outfielder David Lough (left hamstring) was expected to leave Florida for Maryland on Friday after playing nine innings in an intrasquad game. The plan is for Lough to start a minor league rehab soon, but Showalter didn't rule out Lough's possibly joining the Orioles this weekend. … Showalter said he will leave the team at some point around April 25 to attend the memorial service in Nashville, Tenn., for his father-in-law, Phil McMahan, who died Thursday after a protracted battle with cancer.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had a photo of bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz, not Jason Garcia.