After rough 1st, Bedard finds his groove


Orioles Notebook


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Erik Bedard started slowly, giving up three first-inning hits and his lone run, and then finished with a flourish, striking out Florida Marlins All-Star Miguel Cabrera with a slow curveball.

Aside from a sloppy first inning, Bedard dominated the Marlins in the Orioles' 6-5 loss at Fort Lauderdale Stadium yesterday. In his next-to-last spring training start, the 27-year-old left-hander went six innings, allowing no hits after the first, and striking out eight. At one point, he retired 11 straight Marlins, who appeared to be off-balance against him for much of the afternoon.

"I felt pretty good," said Bedard, who lowered his spring ERA to 5.40, although eight of his 10 earned runs came in one of his four spring outings. "Just the first inning, I kept the ball up a little bit and threw pretty much right down the middle. But other than that, it felt great. It was a good mix of pitches."

Bedard didn't realize how well he threw. Told after the game that he had eight strikeouts, he flashed a surprised look and said, "It was eight?"

His explanation? "I got lucky."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo attributed Bedard's success to his aggressiveness in the strike zone after the first inning.

"When he goes out and does as good as he does and you say, `It wasn't his good outing,' you know he did pretty good," Perlozzo said. "I thought he's had better stuff, but he pitched today and he made good use of it. His stuff is so good that if he locates it, he's going to succeed."

Bedard, the club's No. 2 starter, said after the game he feels he's on the right pace in preparing for his first start of the season, April 5 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

He acknowledged that working with new catcher Ramon Hernandez has been beneficial and he also has reaped the rewards of time spent with new pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

"It seems like he's been here for three years," Bedard said of Hernandez.

On Mazzone, Bedard said: "He's been in the playoffs 14 years. He gives you confidence, tells you that you have good pitches and you go out there feeling better about yourself."

Roberts will go again

Perlozzo said that all of the Orioles with the exception of Javy Lopez will make the trip to Port St. Lucie today to face the New York Mets. That group includes second baseman Brian Roberts, who will start his third straight game and make his first road trip of the spring.

Perlozzo had planned on getting the All-Star into a cycle in which he'd play two games and then take one off to avoid putting too much stress on Roberts' surgically repaired left elbow. However, Roberts, who had two hits yesterday, has reported no problems and no extra soreness.

"We'll see how he is [today]," Perlozzo said. "It's possible that we'll just get him a couple of [at-bats] and then we'll get him out of there early. It might be a day where we get most of our guys out early. We'll see how they feel tomorrow."

Perlozzo said Lopez asked for a day off to "take care of things," but the first baseman will work out at Fort Lauderdale Stadium in the morning.

"This gives us a chance to look at some of the other guys at first base, too," Perlozzo said.

Facing Pedro

Orioles right-hander Kris Benson will take the mound against his old team today, but the biggest story will be the spring debut of Mets ace Pedro Martinez, who has been rehabbing a toe injury.

"I haven't finalized the lineup, but it will be interesting to see if he's throwing really well, to see how [Nick] Markakis does in there," Perlozzo said. "If he's throwing really good, it don't matter who's up there, usually. It will be interesting. I would look forward to that."

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