SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles continue to dodge the raindrops in today’s intrasquad game on the Camden Yards field.
Jason Hammel went four innings, allowing two runs and five hits, with no walks and four strikeouts. Jair Jurrjens went three innings, allowing one run and two hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts. He stayed on the mound in the second inning to record a fourth out and elevate his pitch count.
Taylor Teagarden, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit batted every half-inning. Teagarden and Betemit singled off Hammel in the third and doubled off him in the fourth. Zelous Wheeler had an RBI double in the fourth.
Teagarden and Reimold doubled off Jurrjens in the third.
“I actually was pretty happy with everything, minus the last inning on a ball that probably would have been caught minus the wind,” Hammel said. “Overall, everything is good. I feel pretty good with it.”
Hammel wasn’t pitching in ideal conditions - the weather, facing the same three teammates every inning - but it was a productive day.
“If you come in and want to get some work done, it’s fine,” said Hammel, who has allowed one run and six hits in 4 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, with one walk and six strikeouts. “There’s no reason to come in and not work on something, so it’s what I’ll be doing all spring, fastball command with the two-seamer, and I was really happy with that today. Ground balls and a couple good change-ups again today. The slider and curveball are where they need to be, so I really have no negative thoughts about today at all.”
He also fielded the cliched question about whether he’s where he wants to be at this point in camp. It’s a timeless classic.
“Yeah, actually I think I’m ahead of schedule,” he said. “I feel strong. My legs feel real strong and the arm today finally felt that life. Like I said, the second outing is always the worst and I feel the arm starting to build its strength again. And once I got in the fourth inning, I felt pretty much as good as I did in the first inning. So I’m definitely moving along right on schedule, and maybe a little bit ahead.”
Jurrjens, who gave up three runs and five hits, with two walks, in 2 2/3 innings in his last outing against the Toronto Blue Jays, said he felt “much better” and “more powerful” today.
“I feel good again,” he said. “I’m seeing my location getting better, keeping the ball down. I felt good.”
Jurrjens is trying to straighten out his mechanics, which were fouled up last year while he pitched with a sore right knee.
“Way improved,” he said. “Still on my change-up, I’m like thinking about it a little bit, but overall I think the day was a big improvement.
“I threw a couple change-ups for strikes on righties, back-door sliders. It’s improving. I still need to try to throw fastballs inside. I’m working on throwing fastballs inside on both sides.
“Every time I go out there, I’m trying to improve on everything. I’m trying to work on things in spring training, and so far it’s motivated me to go out there and see the improvement. It’s the best feeling to go out there and see improvement every time. The main thing is I’m pain-free and I’m getting confident on the mound again.”
Asked to rate his strength compared to last season, Jurrjens said, “If I start comparing, I’m way above what I was last year. There are still places to go, but right now if I need to judge it right now, I’m way above last year.”
Three of Jurrjens’ eight strikeouts came against minor leaguers Johnny Ruettiger, Ty Kelly and Brenden Webb.
Reimold struck out in his first four at-bats and hit into a double play in his fifth before delivering an RBI double off Jurrjens. Teagarden grounded out in the top of the first and struck out in his next three at-bats before singling off Hammel, doubling off Jurrjens and doubling off Hammel. Betemit struck out, grounded out, popped up, grounded out, singled, struck out, doubled to score a run and doubled again - this time off Steve Johnson - before heading to the clubhouse.
The trio skipped Daniel McCutchen’s appearance in the top of the fourth. McCutchen, who had three straight scoreless appearances before allowing five runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays, has lowered his arm slot as the latest experiment in camp. The Orioles suggested it and he’s giving it a try.
Showalter played it safe by now letting Teagarden, Reimold or Betemit bat against McCutchen, who almost hit one minor leaguer in the head. McCutchen also walked a batter and threw a wild pitch, but he got two groundball outs to get out of the inning.
Former Orioles closer Gregg Olson, the franchise’s all-time saves leader, arrived in camp a few days ago to serve as an instructor. He seems interested in joining the organization in some capacity.
Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is tentatively scheduled to play in his first minor league game on Monday. He’s been taking batting practice and working out at Twin Lakes Park.