First Rehab Start Pleases Hill



April 26, 2009|By Childs Walker and Jeff Zrebiec | Childs Walker and Jeff Zrebiec, and

Left-hander Rich Hill called his first rehabilitation start a "really good performance" and said he'll be ready to pitch again Wednesday as he slowly builds to his debut with the Orioles.

Hill was in uniform and playing catch at Camden Yards on Saturday, a day after he threw three innings for Single-A Frederick. Hill allowed one run, struck out three and walked none against the Potomac Nationals. He was particularly pleased to throw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 12 hitters he faced.

When asked about Hill's outing, Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he "threw strikes. He seems to be progressing fine."

Hill will throw a bullpen session with pitching coach Rick Kranitz on Sunday and will probably start at Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday. Trembley said he will need to throw 90 pitches in a rehabilitation start before coming to Baltimore but declined to say how many starts Hill will need to build to that level.

Hill missed most of spring training because of soreness in his left elbow. That followed a difficult 2008 in which he fell from being one of the best starters in the National League to an afterthought for the Chicago Cubs.

"Now, I'm just looking forward to getting back one step at a time," Hill said. "I don't feel like it's the beginning of spring training for me. I feel like I'm well removed from that and making really good progress."

Special call for Bergesen

When Orioles pitcher Brad Bergesen finally settled back in front of his locker after his successful major league debut Tuesday, there were 50 text messages waiting for him on his cell phone. One of his more memorable congratulatory messages, however, came a few days later, when a team official dropped a note in his locker from former Orioles infielder Kiko Garcia.

Bergesen has known Garcia, who played with the Orioles from 1976 to 1980, since he was 3 years old. Bergesen's father, Art, was a teammate of Garcia's on a traveling softball team in California.

"When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with Kiko and his family," said Bergesen, who will get his second start Sunday. "He's kind of shared some things with me on what to expect and given me advice, especially when I first got drafted. He's such a nice guy, and he did a lot for me when I was younger. He gave me hitting lessons back in the day. He owned some batting cages in California, and we would go to the cages and spend some time there."

Bergesen said his father and Garcia caught up the other day in a phone conversation. It gave the elder Bergesen one more opportunity to relive his son's winning major league debut, which he watched from behind the plate at Camden Yards.

Benson still giving to Baltimore

Former Orioles starter Kris Benson is in town with the Texas Rangers and handed out $125,000 in checks to Baltimore-area charities before Friday's game. Benson will give out another $125,000 to the Baltimore City Police Department before Sunday's game.

"These are a lot of things I would've done if I had been healthy that 2007 season," he said. "But things got really backed up with rehabilitation and everything. I'm fortunate to be able to do it now."

When the Orioles traded for Benson in 2006, they arranged for a charity bonus to be distributed to police, fire and public safety organizations in Baltimore.

Benson, who missed all of 2007 and pitched in the minors last year, is on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis. But he said he will return soon and feels good. "I think I'm a better pitcher than I was," Benson said. "I had a couple of years to learn how to pitch when I'm not 100 percent."

Around the horn

Trembley expected third baseman Melvin Mora (strained hamstring) to run during pre-game drills and said he and Mora would decide the next step in his rehab on Saturday or Sunday ... Outfielder Ryan Freel (head injury) will begin his rehabilitation at Single-A Delmarva on Monday, though he's not eligible to come off the disabled list until May 6.

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