Bedard hit hard, but club not concerned

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

New catcher Castillo reassigned

rehabbing Shuey keeps throwing

March 29, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko | Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko,Sun Reporters

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- When Erik Bedard walked off the mound in his final tuneup before the season begins, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo met him on the top step of the home dugout and congratulated him on his successful spring.

Bedard clearly was not at his best yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Five days before he opposes Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana on Opening Day, Bedard allowed eight hits and three runs in four innings of the Orioles' 5-1 loss to the Cardinals in the Grapefruit League finale at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

"I was just pitching as usual and I got hit," Bedard said. "It was just a couple of innings to get ready for the first game. I was throwing all my pitches, and that's all that counts."

Entering yesterday's start, Bedard had allowed two earned runs, nine hits and five walks, while striking out 21, in 19 innings. The Cardinals already had four hits off him, including a mammoth two-run home run by first baseman Tagg Bozied, by the end of the second inning. Bedard acknowledged he didn't have his best stuff, but he took some solace that he that he was able to perform damage control.

"A couple of pitches were actually good. The home run was a cutter down the middle. Other than that, they hit good pitches," Bedard said. "I could have gave up a lot more runs, but I got out of it. I made some good pitches when I needed to."

Bedard, who went 15-11 last year with a 3.76 ERA, finished the spring with a 2-1 record and a 1.96 ERA. In 23 innings, he allowed five earned runs, 17 hits, six walks and struck out 24.

"I don't think we need to worry about it," Perlozzo said of yesterday's outing. "He had a great spring."

The challenge will be greater in five days. Bedard has never beaten the Twins in five career starts.

"I am looking forward to it, but it's just another game as usual," Bedard said. "I did everything I had to do to get ready."

Catchers wanted

The position almost demands that Alberto Castillo finds a job.

Teams always seem to be looking for a veteran catcher, either in the majors or Triple-A, which explains why Castillo was dressing in the Orioles clubhouse yesterday morning.

Asked if he was surprised the Orioles acquired him from the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, Castillo said: "In this business, no. As a catcher, there's always a need."

Castillo, who was reassigned to minor league camp after yesterday's game, is a career .222 hitter in 11 seasons. He was 4-for-13 with a home run and four RBIs with the Red Sox this spring, before the Orioles obtained him for Double-A outfielder Cory Keylor.

Castillo spent last season at Triple-A New Orleans, batting .268 in 88 games. At age 37, he's far removed from being viewed as a prospect, but he's managed to stay employed.

"Being healthy, being smart, take care of your body. And catchers are always needed," he said. "Do the right things, do the little things to help a team win games."

Shuey sent down

The Orioles reassigned reliever Paul Shuey to their minor league camp, where he'll continue his quest to pitch for the Orioles this season.

Shuey has been throwing off flat ground, and hopes to return to the mound within the next four or five days. He's recovering from a strained tendon in his right foot, sustained March 9 while he was covering home plate.

If Shuey can avoid reinjuring his foot, he might be ready to pitch for Triple-A Norfolk after two weeks at the minor league camp.

Around the horn

The Orioles still haven't decided whether to put outfielder Jay Payton on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, though the move seems inevitable. "It was just a hair better today," Perlozzo said. ... Pitcher Jamie Walker will donate $200 to the U.S. Army Emergency Relief Fund for each appearance and each strikeout this season.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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