Cabrera gets the job done in first outing


Pitcher throws mostly strikes, gives changeup chance to work


March 04, 2007|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun Reporter

VIERA, Fla. -- Daniel Cabrera had two goals for this winter: Concentrate on throwing strikes and refine his little-used changeup.

Mission accomplished through one spring mini-outing.

"I've been working for the whole offseason for the day to be like this, to control my pitches," said Cabrera, the Orioles' 25-year-old right-hander. "That's what I did."

Cabrera allowed an infield single while striking out two and walking none in his scheduled two innings yesterday as the Orioles beat the Washington Nationals, 7-2, at Space Coast Stadium.

Against Cabrera, only one ball left the infield, a lazy fly to center. He threw an incredibly efficient 25 pitches, including 17 for strikes. Only once did he go to a three-ball count. That's a pleasant departure from last year, when Cabrera allowed 104 walks in 148 innings and was briefly demoted to the minors.

"He wasn't overthrowing at all," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He was just working on his stuff."

Known for a mid- to upper-90s fastball, Cabrera used a nasty curve in the second inning to strike out a flailing Robert Fick. But Perlozzo was probably most excited by the three changeups Cabrera threw. One was fouled off, another sailed out of the strike zone, and the third just missed as the batter checked his swing at the last moment.

"He hasn't broken it out too much. He needs to trust it a little bit and these are the perfect games to try it," Perlozzo said. "It's something we can work through the spring and give him an extra pitch. And make him even better."

Cabrera said he's not sure if he threw more than three changeups in a game last season. Certainly, he hasn't thrown three in two innings.

"I try to mix everything, hopefully I can get them out with a breaking ball at times, with a changeup and a fastball," he said. "Right now, I'm trying to use all my pitches."

He also realizes he's a major key to the club's success in 2007.

"I have three years in the major leagues, and now I want to go to the next level. I feel like I am ready to go for that and am trying to go get it," he said. "They have been patient with me. I've frustrated people at times. This is a new year. The past is the past and I am ready for what's coming now."

Another accusation

Perlozzo said he again was surprised to hear that another former Oriole has been linked to illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.

This time it was Texas Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr., who allegedly received a shipment of human growth hormone from an Orlando, Fla., compound pharmacy that is the target of a federal probe, according to Sports Illustrated. Hairston, who was with the Orioles in May 2004 when the hGH reportedly was shipped, has denied receiving or taking the drug.

Hairston is the most recent on a long list of current or former Orioles whose names have been associated with illegal performance enhancers in the past three seasons.

"It's just one of those things, things seem to snowball here, and we'll just let it play out," Perlozzo said. "Almost all of them are [a surprise] to me. I don't ever see any radical changes or things like that. ... I hope everything works out for all of them."

Bako sidelined

Backup catcher Paul Bako has been shelved with a strained oblique muscle, Perlozzo said. Bako injured it Thursday and has been limited to light practice. He is considered day-to-day.

"It's not a severe thing, but we are staying on top of it because we don't want it to get out of hand," Perlozzo said. "It's getting better every day."

Around the horn

Right-hander Hayden Penn (ankle) threw a solid side session Friday and likely will pitch in an exhibition game later this week. ... Left-hander John Parrish, who hadn't faced major league competition since 2005 because of injuries, threw a scoreless eighth inning yesterday, allowing a single and striking out two. ... Second-year outfielder Nick Markakis had three hits, including a double, and scored two runs.

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