SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel threw 86 pitches over six innings in a Minor League game Friday, and Tommy Hunter threw 51 pitches in relief of him against Tampa Bay's Class A affiliate. The pair faced the usual challenges of trying to get some work while facing the always anxious younger hitters.
"You can't really get deep enough in the counts with them to work on some of the things you want to work on -- i.e., like striking people out," said Hammel, who has made two spring starts with the Orioles and gotten a lot of work in at Baltimore's Minor League facility at Twin Lakes Park.
"If you want to work on a slider back foot or a curveball in the dirt or something like that, you can't get there because they swing at the first three pitches, no matter what. But you just get your work in, just treat it like that. There were some good at-bats where I was able to do some things that I wanted. And if we had short innings, you just stay out there and work on some other stuff. Whatever level you're at, there's still a batter in the box, and you've still got to throw strikes."
With the Orioles playing three American League East opponents in the final week of Spring Training, they are sending their projected starters to the Minor League complex instead. Top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman and Rule 5 Draft pick T.J. McFarland will make Grapefruit League starts next week, with the team's pitching announced through Tuesday.
The Orioles also flipped Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman for Sunday, with Matusz pitching in Grapefruit League action against the Pirates, and Tillman throwing to the Orioles' Minor League hitters. If Tillman has a setback -- there is no reason to think he would, as he has said abdominal soreness experienced earlier this spring is behind him -- pitching in the Minors would allow the team to backdate his time on the disabled list.
Hendrickson back with O's after birth of daughter
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reliever Mark Hendrickson was back in the Orioles' clubhouse Saturday after leaving Wednesday for the birth of his third daughter, Sophia.
"I was in line at Southwest and kept the volume down because I was like, 'All right, I'm sure she doesn't want people to see what's going on,'" said Hendrickson, who was following the delivery using social media. "All of a sudden, I get on the plane and the Wifi doesn't work, and I get a picture of Mommy and baby. I was like, 'All right, that's a cool photo.'"
While Hendrickson was disappointed to miss the birth, it was still a special moment for the couple when he arrived at the hospital and saw his wife and their new baby. Sophia is the Hendricksons' third child -- all girls -- and the 38-year-old smiled and said he wouldn't have it any other way.
"What's cool about it is a lot of guys have babies on this team, it brings us closer," he said. "I was even more excited because Diana Roberts told my wife that Brian, once he saw the pictures, was so excited for his [expectant] baby. And that's kind of neat, and I think brings us closer together as men, just because we are kind of going through the same stuff. So that's pretty cool."
Hendrickson last pitched in a spring game on March 15, but has been able to stay on somewhat of a schedule throwing-wise. He played catch Thursday at his home in York, Pa., and threw a side session Tuesday.
• Nick Markakis will hit some soft toss Saturday, his second day of full baseball activities, and the plan is for him to hit off Orioles coaches in batting practice on Sunday and Monday.
• Reliever Pedro Strop will throw a "touch-and-go" side session, which is essentially a light bullpen to see how he feels, on Saturday. The team will figure out Strop's schedule based off the side session after he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
• Tsuyoshi Wada, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, threw a side session Friday, and there are no plans for him to progress to a simulated game. Some of his bullpen sessions are better than others as he builds up arm strength.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.