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Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy makes first exhibition start in tie with Phillies, looks to take next step

Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy can be his worst critic sometimes, but he was happy with his performance in Thursday’s 5-5 tie against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field.

Of course, he had to damn himself with faint praise when he was asked about it by manager Brandon Hyde.

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“I told Hyder, I think I was 3-for-3 [giving up] homers in my first outing every year and I didn’t give one up, so it’s a good start,’’ he said.

Bundy pitched two innings and gave up a run on four hits. That might not sound so great, but he loaded the bases with no one out in the second inning and limited the damage to just one run.

“Every time you have the bases juiced like that you just try to limit the damage and get out of there as quick as you can,’’ he said. “But overall, I just felt good in general. I was happy with it.”

And if you’re going to load the bases with no outs, this is the time to do it.

“Yeah, you don’t want that to happen during the season,” Bundy said, “so yeah, get them out of the way when you can.”

Hyde is just getting to know Bundy, but he said he liked what he saw.

“I thought the ball was coming out good,” Hyde said. “He’s got really nice hop on his four-seam [fastball]. He threw some really good splits, so I thought it was a really good outing for him.”

Bundy said earlier this spring that he wants to be more consistent from the start of the season to the end, but on a more basic level he just wants to improve his fastball command and cut down on home runs after giving up a major league-high 41 last year.

“Locating the fastball,’’ he said. “I think every pitcher in the league will tell you that. That’s the key thing. You’ve got to locate the fastball every time and you can’t really make mistakes with your off-speed pitches when you’re ahead in the count. Even today, I had a little bit of trouble with that, getting ahead two strikes and then prolonging the at-bat, so just things to work at.”

Joey Rickard is still rolling

Outfielder Joey Rickard, 27, is taking advantage of the opportunity to impress a new manager and coaching staff. He singled, tripled, scored a run, drove in a run and stole a base Thursday. He’s batting .500 (4-for-8) with two walks and three runs scored.

“Right now, just seeing the ball well,’’ Rickard said. “Seems like everybody’s putting together good at-bats and it’s kind of contagious at times right now. So far so good.”

Rickard, like everybody else in the outfield mix, has no idea how the competition for the right-field job will play out, but he said the battle for positions has created its own energy in camp.

“Yeah, that’s exactly it,’’ he said. “It’s competition. That’s why we’re here and that’s what we like to do and at the same time we root for each other. Whoever’s ready at the end of the day and produces gets a chance.”

Yusniel Diaz also sizzles

Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz, 22, had three more hits Thursday and is the hottest hitter in camp. He’s 7-for-14 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.

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Diaz was the central player coming over in the deal that send Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent the final six weeks of the minor league season at Double-A Bowie, but said when he reported to camp that he feels he has a chance to make the major league club.

If the decision was being made this week, he just might.

“He hit the ball on the nose four times,’’ Hyde said. “He’s taking really good at-bats. Being able to lay off off-speed [pitches] underneath, which a lot of hitters have problems with, and being able to cover the whole plate, hitting hole power as well as going the other way, yeah, it’s great to see a young kid be able to drive the ball to both sides of the field with confidence.”

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