SARASOTA, Fla. — - Right-hander Alfredo Simon was the final pitcher to take the mound in Monday's intrasquad game, which would have been noteworthy even if he had not pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh to get the save.
Simon underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction 10 months ago, so it's fairly impressive that he's already back on the mound and throwing with pretty good zip on the ball.
"I just feel like new," he said. "I feel 100 percent. I know that's quick, but I've been working hard."
The Orioles had no expectation that he might be ready so soon, so he was not even seriously mentioned as a candidate to break camp with the major league pitching staff. And he probably won't. Most pitchers who undergo that procedure need nearly two years to get back to full performance.
"He's worked hard, boy," manager Dave Trembley said. "He's really done a nice job. He's throwing the ball really well, and he's done an incredible job to come back this soon. I don't know what his velocity was. It just looks like he's free and easy. He hasn't missed any throwing sessions. He's strong. He's a real strong guy."
Simon was the surprise pitcher of spring in 2009, breaking camp in the starting rotation before suffering the elbow injury. Could he end up being the surprise pitcher of 2010?
"I just try to do my job," he said. "I'll just do a good job and they can decide what happens to me."
Trembley clearly is impressed, but he's not making any promises.
"Let's see how it works out," he said. "I'm sure he'll get a very good look. Let's see how it works out."
Bergesen pleased by progress
Orioles starter Brad Bergesen
threw his second formal bullpen session of the spring Monday, and said he feels that he could be "game-ready" right now.
Bergesen, who has been about 10 days behind the other Orioles pitchers as a result of a strained right shoulder, threw 35 pitches Monday and mixed in off-speed stuff for the first time.
"It's feeling that much better each and every time," Bergesen said. "I sure don't think [being ready for Opening Day is] going to be a problem. I'm feeling good right now. Just to give credit to [assistant athletic trainer] Brian Ebel, I feel like I could be game-ready right now, but I know they want to take it slow and it's a process you have to go through."
Assuming there are no setbacks, Bergesen will throw another side session Wednesday and live batting practice Friday.
Tillman has nice startChris Tillman
had a relatively easy day's work in Monday's intrasquad game, turning in a scoreless inning for the orange team. Tillman threw 11 of his 15 pitches for strikes, allowing only a one-out double to Nick Markakis
Tillman threw mostly fastballs, including a cutter that he has tried to pick up in camp, along with a few off-speed pitches.
"I felt great," said Tillman, who said his back is no longer an issue. He blamed sleeping on a couch for some earlier spasms and stiffness in his lower back.
"I would have liked to throw a little more off-speed stuff, but it's good to work on your fastball, especially early in camp."
Around the horn
Pitching prospect Jake Arrieta
started opposite Tillman in the intrasquad game and also turned in a scoreless frame, throwing six of his 11 pitches for strikes and allowing just a one-out double to Cesar Izturis
. … Miguel Tejada
had an uneventful debut at third base, not getting a ground ball hit to him in three innings of work. … Utility infielder Robert Andino
had the lone homer in the game, hitting a two-run shot in the sixth inning off Josh Perrault
. … Reliever Jim Johnson
looked sharp in pitching one scoreless inning that included a three-pitch strikeout of new first baseman Garrett Atkins
. … The two teams made a combined seven errors in the seven-inning game, prompting Trembley to say, "Not good, huh? It's spring training. Mistakes. Got to work on it." … ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale
, a Sarasota resident and season-ticket holder for Ed Smith Stadium, hosted Orioles officials, players and coaches for a gathering at his house Monday night.