Uehara enjoys day, not rain

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

March 30, 2009|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Koji Uehara was pretty proud of himself yesterday.

"I pitched a perfect game," he said with a smile.

In reality, Uehara pitched a perfect inning before the clouds opened up and delayed Sunday's exhibition game against the New York Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. He struck out the first two batters he faced and got center fielder Jeremy Reed to ground out to second, and the infield was under water before the Orioles could get through the bottom of the inning.

The game was delayed for about 80 minutes, so Uehara went to the covered bullpen area next to the back fields and simulated four more innings of work, throwing a total of 76 pitches. He'll make one more spring training start, at Norfolk on Friday, before making his Orioles regular-season debut against the New York Yankees on April 8.

"To be honest, I wish I could have pitched more in a game situation," he said through his interpreter, Jiwon Bang.

Soggy Sunday

Somehow, the Orioles and Mets managed to get the game in, even though the grounds crew couldn't get the tarpaulin onto the infield before it was doused by the cloudburst. There was a point when the grounds crew could not budge the tarp after unrolling it in left field. Finally, with the help of some more Orioles employees, it was able to cover the soaked infield.

The logistical struggle could have happened anywhere, but it still focused attention on the Orioles' substandard spring training situation. It also threatened to further complicate the pitching situation, but the skies relented and a third rainout this month was averted.

Roster moves official

None of this should surprise anyone. The Orioles have placed pitcher Rich Hill on the 15-day disabled list with a sore elbow. Reliever Jim Miller has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. And, drum roll, please, catcher Matt Wieters has been reassigned to the minor league facility in Sarasota.

Holding back

Manager Dave Trembley said Sunday that he's going to stop updating the competition for the remaining spots in the starting rotation during the final week of training camp.

"In all likelihood, I'm not going to name the starting five until the camp is over," Trembley said. "Good or bad, I'm not going to answer whether somebody is in or out after somebody makes a start."

The situation seems to change by the day. Trembley confirmed that Hayden Penn will start Tuesday's exhibition game and Mark Hendrickson will go to Fort Myers to start a minor league game Wednesday.

Zaun still sore

Catcher Gregg Zaun remained questionable the day after he was scratched from the lineup in Jupiter with a sore elbow.

Trembley said he doesn't know when Zaun will be able to play again but said the catcher has assured him he'll be ready to go Opening Day.

The Orioles aren't looking that far ahead, but if Zaun doesn't bounce back in time to start Opening Day, the club would probably keep Robby Hammock and Chad Moeller until he's ready to play.

Around the horn

Kiley Bechler, the widow of former Oriole Steve Bechler, visited Fort Lauderdale Stadium with her daughter, who was born after Bechler died of heat exhaustion during early spring workouts in 2003. ... Brian Roberts was out of the starting lineup again with a lingering respiratory infection and back soreness. Trembley said Roberts will start Tuesday and Wednesday's games. ... The 12-man vs. 13-man pitching staff issue might be decided Monday morning. Trembley said he's going to have "a very strong cup of coffee" and meet with pitching coach Rick Kranitz to discuss how to handle the situation.

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