Positive thinking

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Guthrie confident spring struggles won't carry over

April 06, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie ran into CC Sabathia in Las Vegas in December as both took in the Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. At the time, Sabathia was still a couple of days away from signing his seven-year, $161 million deal with the New York Yankees.

On Monday, Guthrie will oppose his former Cleveland Indians teammate, who will make his Yankees debut, in yet another subplot of Opening Day at Camden Yards.

"I think it'll be fun," Guthrie said. "He's one of those leaders who was with the Indians when I came up. He treated everyone well. I don't think there's anybody that isn't happy for his success."

Guthrie, of course, has more pressing concerns than his counterpart Monday. He went 1-2 with a 10.57 ERA in Grapefruit League play this spring, allowing 24 hits and seven walks in 15 1/3 innings. Those numbers don't include his struggles pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Guthrie, who will be getting his second straight Opening Day assignment, maintains his confidence hasn't been shaken.

"I was generally pleased with the quality of my pitches. I made some good ones, but the fortunes didn't go my way. Some good pitches got hit, and all the bad pitches got hit," he said. "When you go out there and things don't go your way, it's frustrating, but you know this game is not easy. You have to keep going out there and doing the things that led you to success and have confidence that if you do that, you'll do those things well again."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he has complete confidence in Guthrie and the pitcher's spring struggles were an aberration.

"I think like anybody else, when you're not doing well, you look for answers," Trembley said. "For me, he's healthy, he had a good side session, and we expect him to pitch well [Monday] and give us a chance to win."

Who's in left?

Trembley would not announce his lineup for Monday's opener, but the only uncertainty appears to revolve around who will play left field. Ty Wigginton, who is a career .288 hitter against left-handed pitchers, will be the Orioles' designated hitter, leaving Trembley to decide between left-handed hitters Luke Scott and Felix Pie and right-handed hitter Ryan Freel for the left-field start.

It appears Trembley is leaning toward Scott, who had a great spring, leading the club with five home runs and 15 RBIs. Pie is 5-for-47 in his big league career against left-handed pitchers, so he isn't expected to get many at-bats against them early in the season. The plan was for Freel to start in left field against left-handed pitching, but he struggled badly this spring, batting .216 and striking out 20 times in 74 at-bats.

That's why all signs point to Scott's getting his shot at Sabathia, who has held left-handers to a .240 average during his career. Scott batted .215 against lefties last season, but in only 107 at-bats, as he was often lifted from the lineup in favor of right-handed hitting Jay Payton.

"Luke is a guy that when he's hot, it really doesn't matter if it's a righty or a lefty out there," Trembley said. "Luke had a very good spring. I think there will be opportunities for him to play against left-handed pitchers."

Around the horn

Second baseman Brian Roberts, who has been slowed by an upper-respiratory infection and back and side issues, did not take part in Sunday's workout, though he was at the stadium and is expected to be in the lineup Monday. ... The Orioles purchased the contract of catcher Chad Moeller from Triple-A Norfolk, leaving their 40-man roster at 39.

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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