Olson adjusts after rushing his first start

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Top pitching prospect fares much better in second inning

March 01, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- In one inning, Orioles pitcher Garrett Olson needed to be rescued.

Then it was his opponent's turn.

Starting for Team 1 in yesterday's intrasquad game, Olson had trouble locating the plate in the first inning while allowing a run, two hits and a walk and hitting a batter. But in the second, he struck out two and got a fly ball.

The left-hander threw so many pitches in the first, he reached his limit with two outs and the bases loaded. Under relaxed intrasquad rules, players were pulled from the field and the game moved to the second inning.

"I felt like I was rushing out there a little, but that could have been because it was my first time throwing live," said Olson, 23, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization and a possible call-up later in the summer. "In the second inning, I felt like I made a nice adjustment."

Olson struck out Jeff Fiorentino and Roger Cedeno in the second. Fiorentino took a bad swing, stumbling out of the box before walking to the dugout.

"He struggled the first inning," manager Sam Perlozzo said of Olson. "I think all of the pitchers struggled. That's natural the first time on the mound. They all came back and pitched better the second inning. Garrett did."

Olson is expected to pitch again in two or three days, as the Orioles dive into their exhibition schedule.

"We heard an awful lot of good things about him, and it's nice for me to actually see who he is," Perlozzo said. "That's what the plan was, and we'll probably hold to that. We feel good about him and we want him to be ready to help us at any time."

Versatility from Millar ...

After spending most of camp taking ground balls at first base, Kevin Millar grabbed his outfielder's glove and headed to left during yesterday's workout on the back fields.

Millar is expected to make most of his starts at first again this season, especially after the Orioles signed Aubrey Huff and Jay Payton over the winter. But he's open to change.

"I think we'll keep working out there," he said. "I played a lot of outfield with the Red Sox, and not an inning last year. But this gives [Perlozzo] a lot of flexibility. And I've never had a problem with the outfield.

"I don't bring blazing speed and blazing arm strength, but I'll catch the ball and hit the cutoff man and throw to the right bases."

... and from Bynum

Freddie Bynum, acquired in a December trade with the Chicago Cubs, started games at three positions last year - second base, left field and right field. Asked what position was his favorite, Bynum wouldn't get specific.

"Being on a major league team - that's the position I like," he said. "I don't have a favorite position. I feel comfortable at each one I play. I just like to play baseball and I like to be on the major league team, and I do everything I can just to stay on the team."

Bynum, a 26-year-old utility player who hit .257 last year with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 71 games, is competing for the final spot on the Orioles' bench. He started at second base in both intrasquad games.

"If push comes to shove and I don't make the team, I'll go down to Triple-A and I'll be back," he said. "I'm not the type of guy who is going to sit and dwell on it."

Perlozzo has been impressed while watching Bynum during infield drills.

"He actually looks like he's got some decent hands," Perlozzo said. "I was told outfield was his best position. I was looking for a guy that doesn't look quite as good as he does catching the ball. I mean, he looks like an infielder catching the ball. We'll see how he is in a game, though."

Stern still out

Outfielder Adam Stern remains shut down with a strained right oblique muscle.

"He's a gamer that doesn't want to quit," Perlozzo said. "It's hard to keep the leash on him, but we're doing that right now because those are injuries that can drag on and we don't want to do that. We want to see him play a little bit. He's day-to-day. He'll have time if we keep him from having a setback."

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons will start at first base in today's exhibition opener against the Florida Marlins in Jupiter. ... Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez and Huff aren't on the travel roster. ... Nonroster infielder Mike Cervenak homered off Kurt Birkins in the intrasquad game. J.R. House ripped a two-run double off Jim Johnson, and Jason Dubois had two hits. Radhames Liz threw two scoreless innings. ... Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver sat in the stands.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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