Bedard buffs Opening Day credentials

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Left-hander is perfect in 2 innings, with strikes on 16 of 20 pitches

Notebook

March 03, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- Erik Bedard doesn't assume that he'll be the Orioles' starter on Opening Day. He's only throwing like it.

Bedard retired all six batters he faced yesterday, getting strikes on 16 of his 20 pitches, in a 3-0 victory over the Florida Marlins.

"You start off like that, it feels good," he said. "I was trying to throw strikes. Not even trying to nibble on the corners or anything. Just trying to get everything over the plate and see what they could hit.

"I used everything. I threw one changeup and two or three curveballs. That's about it."

Asked about the likelihood that he'll make the April 2 start in Minnesota, Bedard said: "It would be fun, but it doesn't really mean anything after the season starts. It doesn't matter."

Manager Sam Perlozzo said it's premature to name Bedard the Opening Day starter, but the left-hander is lined up to get the prime assignment.

"It's so early that injuries and things like that could still happen," Perlozzo said. "There's no reason to right now. We still have a long spring. We have a lot of work to do. We'll get to that.

"I think you're seeing the same thing I am. You're all pretty smart, so if he pitches like that, he has a heck of a shot at it."

Bedard struck out two and set the tone for Orioles pitchers, who didn't allow a hit until Cody Ross singled off Paul Shuey in the seventh. He threw first-pitch strikes to five of the six Marlins.

"It's always important to get ahead of them," he said. "The stats are there when you're ahead of them. You pitch behind in the count, you give up more hits and runs."

Too close for comfort

Yesterday's win didn't come without a scare. Reliever Chad Bradford took a line drive from Scott Seabol off his right forearm in the ninth inning, but he scrambled for the ball and got the out. He remained in the game after a few warm-up tosses.

"It's OK," he said. "It tightened up a little bit, but that's to be expected when you get [hit] with a ball like that. I think it will be OK. I was able to finish the inning before it started to swell up."

Bradford had ice applied to his forearm, right shoulder and lower back as he headed toward his locker, which is located beside Jamie Walker's. Walker was hit in the head by a line drive by Nick Markakis during a workout last week.

"If it gets any higher, it's toward my head, so that's definitely scary," Bradford said.

Gomez's hit parade

After a double, a home run and three RBIs in the exhibition opener against the Marlins, Chris Gomez attracted a group of reporters at his locker yesterday morning. The scene amused Aubrey Huff, who dressed in the next stall, and Jay Gibbons, who gave mock applause a little farther down the row. Imagine if Gomez still had his hitting streak.

It reached 18 games last year until the Boston Red Sox's Devern Hansack allowed no hits in a rain-shortened five-inning game in the season finale, ending Gomez's slow-speed chase of Joe DiMaggio's record.

"The dream's over; the hype's gone," Gomez said, grinning. "I just feel bad for the fans that were following it."

Once thought to be leaving the organization, Gomez re-signed with the Orioles for $850,000, plus incentives. He'll be the primary utility infielder, scrounging for at-bats while trying to stay sharp on the bench.

"That's been the situation the whole time. That's my situation here," he said. "I'll get spot starts, and if someone goes down, I'll get some more playing time. That's never changed. I still prepare myself the same way."

Gomez was one of the more prolific hitters in the majors over the second half of last season, batting .402 in 27 games. He missed most of the first half with a broken bone in his left hand.

"The only thing good about [the streak] is I felt that, at least I had a season," he said. "Prior to that, I was out two months with the hand. I just never got going at all. It just gave me an opportunity to have another season.

"At this point, I feel like every year could be the last year. When you're hitting whatever I was hitting, .220 with 40 at-bats, you think, `Is this the last one?' You're in your mid-30s and you're a utility guy hitting .220, of course it crosses your mind. Fortunately, I was able to finish strong and it worked out."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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