Orioles make three cuts, Jimenez outstanding in debut (O’s win 15-4)


Score: Orioles 15, Phillies 4

Recap: Ubaldo Jimenez dazzled in his debut, retiring all six batters and striking out three. Nick Markakis singled, doubled twice and tripled to finish 4-for-4. The Orioles pounded A.J. Burnett for six runs and seven hits in three innings. Maybe a little payback to the Monkton resident.

Need to know: David Lough was hit on the foot during an outfield drill a few days ago and scratched from the trip to Fort Myers. X-rays were negative. He was hit on the foot by an A.J. Burnett pitch today, stole second on the next pitch and scored on Markakis’ single. Also, Miguel Gonzalez left after three batters because he took a combacker that bruised his left leg.

On deck: Saturday, home (ss) vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m. on MASN HD; (ss) at Red Sox in Fort Myers, 7:05 p.m.

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles today announced that they optioned left-hander Mike Belfiore to Triple-A Norfolk and reassigned pitchers Tim Alderson and Nick Additon to minor league camp.

With these assignments, the Orioles now have 59 players at major league spring training, including 19 non-roster invitees.

The 2014 spring debut of Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez went off without a hitch.

Jimenez retired all six batters that he faced, striking out three in a row. He threw 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes.

Jimenez struck out Jimmy Rollins swinging and Domonic Brown looking at a 90 mph fastball to close the first inning. Eleven of his 16 pitches were strikes. He froze Ryan Howard to lead off the second and induced two fly balls.

David Lough made a diving catch in left field to end the inning.

Pretty much the way Jimenez would draw it up.

“I felt good,” he said. “I was able to relax. Don’t want to try to do too much. Just work on my two-seam fastball and throw strikes.”

Was he nervous?

“Definitely, I was excited,” he replied. “I’m like I’m going to be there for the first time wearing the Orioles uniform. I was very excited, but I was like, I have to get it under control, because usually when you try to do too much, things get out of hand and you throw a lot of balls.”

Jimenez kept reminding himself in the first inning not to overthrow.

“That’s something that I told myself. Don’t try to throw too hard. Try to throw over the plate,” he said.

Jimenez was scheduled to go two innings and that’s where the Orioles kept him. He threw about 50 pitches in the bullpen and another 25 in the game. That was plenty for a spring debut.

Jimenez threw his two-seamer, slider and splitter today. No four-seam fastballs. His fastball topped out at 91 mph.

“You always want to make a first impression,” he said. “It means a lot. Obviously, I want to go out there and be there for the team right away.”

What’s next is hopefully more of the same.

“Just keep doing what I was doing today, throwing strikes,” he said. “Today, I only threw two-seam fastballs. Hopefully later, as my arm gets a little bit better, I get ready. I have to try to keep it going like that because once that velocity starts coming, it gets a little bit harder to throw a strike.”

Jimenez signed a four-year, $50 million contract on Feb. 19, putting him behind the other pitchers in camp.

“I feel good, but I know I’m not 100 percent like most of the pitchers are right now,” he said. “They’re probably a week ahead of me, but I feel fine. I’m getting there. I’ve been doing some routines that they want me to do in order to get ready for the season, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Jimenez enjoyed working with Matt Wieters, who got the start behind the plate.

“He’s great, he’s great,” Jimenez said. “He has a great big target out there. What else can you ask as a pitcher? He calls good pitches. He’s one of the best catchers in the whole major leagues.”

Jimenez already felt accepted by his new teammates. Today’s outing will only strengthen the bond.

“First when I signed, I was wondering a little bit, but as soon as I got to the ballpark, everything felt good,” he said. “They have a great group of guys. They’re going to make you feel at home right away. It wasn’t hard to get along with everyone because everybody’s too nice over here. I felt at home the first day.”

Ryan Flaherty hit a two-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the second inning, and the Orioles scored four runs in the third to lead 6-0.

Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy are 2-for-2 with an RBI.

Burnett has hit two batters, including Jemile Weeks in the third with the bases loaded. The Monkton resident has allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out one in three innings.

Brian Matusz replaced Jimenez in the third and struck out the first two batters he faced. Lough made a diving catch in left field to rob Cameron Rupp and end the inning.

Matusz got the first two outs in the fourth before walking Brown and allowing an RBI double to Ryan Howard.

Update: Matusz gave up a second run on Marlon Byrd’s bloop single. Adam Jones almost made a diving catch.

The Orioles scored four runs off the “other” Miguel Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Markakis has a single, double and triple. Hardy also is 3-for-3 with two RBIs.

Flaherty and Weeks each have two RBIs.

Update II: Gonzalez lasted just three hitters before taking Cameron Rupp’s hard-hit comebacker off the lower left leg. Gonzalez hopped back up, but after being attended to by head athletic trainer Richie Bancells, he was escorted back to the clubhouse.

Gonzalez was able to walk OK after being struck, and his removal could just be precautionary since it’s so early in spring.

Update III: Gonzalez has a bruised left leg as a result of the comebacker.

Markakis doubled to end his day, finishing 4-for-4, while knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa came on in relief of Gonzalez to pitch 1 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings.

Alfredo Aceves has allowed solo homers as the only two hits he has permitted, but offense hasn’t been a problem for the Orioles, who lead 14-4 in the eighth.

Update IV: Jonathan Schoop hit his first homer of the spring in the eighth, increasing the Orioles’ lead to 15-4.

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