Walker `sore,' but in good spirits at practice

Orioles notebook

Injured reliever still won't use screen unless O's force him

February 25, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- Jamie Walker never lost consciousness or his sense of humor.

The Orioles' reliever sat at his locker early yesterday morning, a red spot on the back of his head equaling the size of the baseball that slammed off it Friday during a batting practice session. He suffered a mild concussion but no further damage.

"I'm fine," he said. "It knocked some sense in me, but I'm fine. Just sore. That's about it. I'm all right."

Walker participated in some long toss yesterday but otherwise took the day off. He is expected to be further eased into workouts today. He isn't experiencing any dizziness or headaches, so he's likely to be cleared to return to the field.

"I got a new tattoo on my head. That's it," he said.

It could have been much worse. Walker turned away from Nick Markakis' line drive, and the ball caromed off an area near the crown of his head.

"I tried to get out of the way of it," he said. "I saw it coming. I tried to get my glove up, but heck, I don't have the reaction like I used to. But luckily it didn't hit me in the temple.

"I was in disarray there for a minute because I was [ticked] off because I didn't catch the darn thing. But other than that, I'm fine.

"I didn't go down. I don't know how far the ball went."

Walker was taken to Holy Cross Hospital for a CT scan, which came back negative.

"Heck, sitting in the emergency room was worse than getting hit," he said. "I was there about four hours, but that's the way it is in emergency rooms. It's life and death. I understand it. They did a pretty good job getting me in there and getting me out."

Markakis seemed more shaken by the incident than Walker, who doesn't place any blame on the second-year outfielder.

"That's his job," Walker said. "I'm not worried about that. It was a good pitch and he did what he was supposed to do. He shouldn't feel sorry. That's his job."

Pitchers aren't required to throw behind the protective screen, and Walker always moves it out of his way. Getting smacked in the head won't change that habit.

"I don't use it. I never use them. I just don't like them," he said.

"Obviously, I got hit, but that's baseball. It ain't the first time I've been hit, and it probably won't be the last. I think it's the first time I got hit in the head, but luckily it wasn't in the front. It could do some damage if it got my eye or something. But I'm fine. Heck, it's part of the game.

"I won't ever use the screen. I'm sure I'll catch some flak about it, but we'll see. If they make me, I will, but I prefer not to."

Jogging his memory

Walker's mishap reminded executive vice president Mike Flanagan of the time he took a line drive by Dan Ford off his jaw while throwing batting practice in spring training. Flanagan was using the screen.

"I ducked behind the bar and Dan Ford hit a topspin ball," Flanagan said. "The screen can bring a false sense of security. I've seen them go through the screen, too."

Flanagan didn't break his jaw, "but it was stiff for quite a long period of time," he said.

Shuey in shape

Manager Sam Perlozzo has noticed that veteran reliever Paul Shuey, who missed the 2004 season and retired in April 2005, seems to be rejuvenated in Orioles camp.

"He looks good," Perlozzo said. "He's an older fellow who's got a lot of little kid in him again. He feels good about himself and is enjoying it. We're hoping he stays healthy and gives us a good effort this spring and makes things tough.

"I remember him when he was good, and he was nasty then. So if he can get close to that, we've got ourselves a pitcher."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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