SARASOTA, Fla. - Reliever Pat Neshek has pretty much done everything in his power to break camp with the Orioles next week, but he still regards himself as a long shot. And he seems perfectly fine with those odds.
Neshek hasn't allowed a run in seven appearances covering 6 1/3 innings. He's given up three hits, walked none and struck out six.
"Coming in, I wanted to improve a lot on my command. That was my main focus, and I think I've done that," he said. "I feel really good out there. That's really all that matters to me."
There are two factors working against Neshek. He isn't on the 40-man roster, and the Orioles have plenty of one-inning relievers in camp. If they don't make a trade, they'll take Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom and Luis Ayala to Baltimore. Pedro Strop is out of options. Darren O'Day also remains in the competition now that he's recovered from his groin injury. And Alfredo Simon, who's out of options, could return to the bullpen.
The Orioles need at least one left-handed reliever. Troy Patton is out of options and hasn't allowed a run in seven appearances. Zach Phillips, Tsuyoshi Wada and Dana Eveland remain in camp. Phillips has an option remaining. Eveland does not. Wada, who starts today and remains a candidate for the rotation, must give his approval before being optioned.
Anyway, back to Neshek ...
"If I have to go down to (Triple-A) Norfolk, that's totally fine," he said. "I'm happy where I'm at right now. I think I'll have good numbers wherever I'm at.
"I'm not on the roster. It's going to be tough to crack it. That's the biggest obstacle. A lot of things can change in the next month and spots might open up. I just want to put myself in a good position and get my arm feeling good."
His arm seems fine.
Neshek didn't pitch in 2009 after undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on Nov. 18, 2008. The Padres designated him for assignment last summer. His career stalled, but it's been jump-started in Sarasota.
"My ball's doing stuff now," he said. "I think I hit 90 mph the other day. I haven't seen a 90 since the surgery. When I hit it, I kind of smiled. It was a pretty good feeling."
The Orioles made eight cuts yesterday and placed Brian Roberts and Zach Britton on the disabled list. Neshek is still here.
He wasn't sweating it.
"What mattered most to me was feeling good," he said. "You don't know what kind of moves are going to be made. That stuff doesn't really matter to me. When you've been around for a while, you know your body, and I feel like I'm almost back to where I was pre-surgery, and that's pretty awesome for me.
"I think I'm going to have a successful year, wherever I'm at."