Hunter on Hunter (O’s lose 6-3)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Pitcher Tommy Hunter says he still has a few things to work on before the Orioles break camp.

“Maybe throwing strikes, starting off hitters with strikes,” he said. “That’s probably the first goal.”

The guy has a great sense of humor.

Hunter was making his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game after throwing four innings in a minor league game. He allowed two runs and five hits over five innings.

“Back to the big leagues,” he said. “I was joking around about that earlier today. It was fun to get out there. I definitely have some work to do for now. Thank God there’s two weeks of spring training left.

“The positive you can take out of this is I got out of it healthy and I’m fine, and I’m anxious for the next start.”

Hunter’s lower back discomfort is behind him, so to speak.

“Yeah, it really wasn’t much of an issue,” he said. “I downplay it a whole lot, I guess. I wasn’t worried too much about it. I was able to throw with whatever it was, but it’s gone now and I felt good.”

Hunter is a lot lighter this spring, but his mechanics and stuff are the same.

“I was a pretty mobile guy at any kind of weight,” he said, “but the adjustments that need to be made are strikes, and we’ll go from there.”

Asked if his stamina is where he wants it to be, Hunter said, “It’s definitely not where you want it to be right now. There’s still two weeks left. I was able to get outs. I’m not feeling the best that I can probably feel, but then again, it’s spring training and it was my first outing. We can only improve from there.

“My legs are good. I think stamina shows when you are throwing ball up in the zone. That’s where it comes through. But I have a couple more starts and we’re going to get better. I’m going to get better. Not you guys.”

It’s spring training for the reporters, too.

Hunter threw 74 pitches in five innings.

“You’d like to get more than five innings,” he said. “Then again, that’s the issue of throwing strikes and commanding the zone, getting ahead of the count. Once you start doing that, you’re going to start taking care of situations like that where you throw 74 pitches in five innings.”

The Orioles still lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the eighth inning. Former Oriole Jim Hoey is on the mound for the Blue Jays.

Update: The Blue Jays scored four runs off Pedro Strop in the top of the ninth and defeated the Orioles, 6-3. They loaded the bases with no outs and scored on a sacrifice fly and an error before Stu Pomeranz replaced him. Brian Bocock followed with a two-run double.

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