Talking to Hammel and Markakis (updated twice)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel says he was more amped up for Friday's intrasquad start than today's Grapefruit League outing against the Atlanta Braves.

Hammel retired the side in order in his only inning on Friday. Today, he allowed two hits and a walk in two scoreless innings.

"Honestly, for the first time out, considering all things, the results were good," he said. "The fastball was a little erratic today. That was my goal, to work on fastball command. The first inning was good. The second inning was a little shaky. I guess a B, C, C+ for the effort. I went through some stressful times already. I was hoping that would come later.

"It felt good to be back out there between the lines and see some other colors on jerseys and get in a competitive game again. For the first time out, I think it was a success."

Hammel has thrown twice to catcher Matt Wieters.

"Matt behind the dish is outstanding," Hammel said. "We're on the same page. When I miss or if something doesn't work, I don't have to shake him. I'm very excited to continue working with him."

Hammel's fastball was 92-94. He just needs to locate it more consistently.

"At the beginning of camp, my main objective is to get fastball command," he said. "Today, mechanically, I was off. I was running away from the ball, basically. Upper half was a little too quick, but that's an easy fix."

As I told you earlier, Nick Markakis will make his first exhibition appearance on March 14, serving as the designated hitter against the Pirates in Sarasota.

Markakis sat down with manager Buck Showalter and the athletic trainers and mapped out his schedule for the next few weeks. He'll get extra at-bats at the minor league complex.

"I won't need too many at-bats to get ready," he said. "I took live BP the other day and I felt great. We picked the 14th because I feel like I'll just need another week to get my feet under me. But everything's going great. I did some pretty heavy baserunning yesterday and it felt great. I didn't feel anything."

Markakis said he could be ready to play right field after having "a couple days" as the designated hitter.

Markakis can replicate certain game conditions while he's working out on the back fields, but not all of them.

"That's a big part," he said. "Quick, sudden movements to balls to my left and right that I need to get to real quick, but that's why we do all those little things to prepare for that."

Eric Hinske led off the top of the seventh inning with a long home run off Orioles left-hander Zach Phillips to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.

Darren O'Day, Pedro Strop and Phillips each tossed a scoreless inning after Gregg left the game. Phillips came back out for the seventh.

Update: Jai Miller tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. He has two hits today, and four RBIs in two days.

Update II: Miguel Socolovich escaped a bases-loaded, no out jam in the eighth, getting a 5-4-3 double play that began with a sensational diving stop by Steve Tolleson. The Orioles broke the tie in the bottom half on Caleb Joseph's leadoff double off J.J. Hoover, Manny Machado's single into left field and Xavier Avery's long sacrifice fly to right.

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