LAKELAND, Fla. — Kevin Millwood was hoping to go at least three innings, possibly four in his Grapefruit League debut with the Orioles Saturday. He couldn't even get three outs.
The Detroit Tigers hammered the Orioles' projected ace for six earned runs, seven hits and a walk over two-thirds of an inning in their 9-5 victory at Joker Marchant Stadium. Millwood also mixed in a balk in a forgettable afternoon that saw the right-hander allow a leadoff homer to Clete Thomas and permit eight of the 10 hitters he faced to reach base.
"I feel like I was able to throw strikes. They weren't all quality strikes," said Millwood, who threw 17 of his 30 pitches for strikes. "I don't feel as bad as what it looked like out there. I felt like I made some good pitches. I felt I gained a little ground on my changeup. Next time I'll work on something else, and hopefully it won't go as it did today."
Millwood, a 13-year big league veteran whom the Orioles acquired this offseason from the Texas Rangers for reliever Chris Ray, entered the game planning to work on his fastball command and his changeup, which is considered his fourth-best pitch. He was prepared for the consequences, as was manager Dave Trembley.
"If I go out on a day like today and get beat around a little bit working on something, I don't care. I'm just trying to get ready," said Millwood, who is in line to start Opening Day on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. "I'm sure that no matter what I say, people are going to worry about it and talk about it. I use this time to get ready. I try to get my pitches to a level where they're ready for Game 1."
Reimold makes debut
Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold made his first Grapefruit League appearance of 2010, going 0-for-2 with two groundouts. The second one was a double-play ball in the third inning that Reimold would have probably beaten out before he had left Achilles tendon surgery in September.
Trembley said the club has instructed Reimold to not go all-out, at least early in spring training, to avoid putting added pressure on his surgically repaired foot.
"I'm going to try to not hurt myself any more, I guess," Reimold said. "I ran hard, but I didn't want to hurt anything. I wasn't going 100 percent. I'm still working my way up to 100 percent. ... I'm not where I want to be, obviously. I'd love to be 100 percent and have no soreness or anything, but you have to play this game with pain sometimes."
Lebron lighting it up
When Orioles right-handed reliever Luis Lebron walked off the mound after a scoreless outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Trembley jokingly asked him, "Where the hell have you been?"
Lebron, a 24-year-old whom the Orioles signed as a nondrafted free agent in 2004, is opening some eyes in camp. After turning in a scoreless outing in the intrasquad game, he struck out two of the three Pirates he faced Friday.
"He's got a heck of a fastball," Trembley said. "That's explosive. That's a major league fastball right there. We have to see him again. He looked pretty good."
Lebron started last season at Single-A Frederick and had a 3.00 ERA and 11 saves in 28 appearances. He moved to Double-A Bowie and had nine saves and a 1.98 ERA in 24 games. In 27 1/3 innings, Lebron allowed eight hits and 13 walks while striking out 39.
Asked whether the Dominican has pitched his way into contention for an Opening Day roster spot, Trembley said: "I don't know about that. I'd like to see him again though. You don't see that kind of arm very often."
Around the horn
With Brian Roberts, Cesar Izturis and Justin Turner sidelined, Trembley said the club might summon a middle infielder from minor league camp just to offer it some protection. One possibility is veteran Andy Gonzalez. Turner (bruised left foot) is out until at least Monday and Izturis (sore throat) could play as early as today, while there is still no timetable for Roberts' return from a small herniated disk in his back. ... Trembley said he could start playing his regulars in back-to-back games this week. ... Pitching prospect Brandon Erbe (McDonogh) had a shaky Grapefruit League debut, surrendering three runs in one inning, including a two-run homer to Casper Wells (Towson University). ... Matt Albers, Cla Meredith, Dennis Sarfate and Alberto Castillo, who are competing for the one or two vacancies in the Opening Day bullpen, all turned in scoreless outings Saturday.