FORT MYERS, FLA. — Young pitchers Luis Lebron and Brandon Erbe were among seven players sent out of Orioles' camp Monday, but they left manager Dave Trembley with a lasting impression as they headed to the minor-league facility.
"Both of them have special, special arms and great bodies. They are pitchers, long, lean, good workers, good makeup," Trembley said. "People won't miss on them. There are other guys that have come through and people have missed on them and maybe over-projected. Erbe and Lebron will pitch in the major leagues."
The 22-year-old Erbe, a McDonogh High School graduate, allowed three runs in his lone, one-inning appearance in a Grapefruit League game, but he retired all six batters Sunday in a "B" game.
He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk's roster along with lefty Troy Patton, who allowed one run in his lone "A" inning this spring.
Lebron, a 25-year-old reliever who threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings in March, and right-hander Chorye Spoone were outrighted to Double-A Bowie. It hasn't been decided where they'll pitch when the minor-league season begins in April.
Non-roster pitchers Armando Gabino, Chris George and Michael Hinckley also were assigned to minor-league camp.
Patton, who is returning from March 2008 shoulder surgery, hit 91 mph with his fastball in his B game appearance Sunday.
"It was the hardest I had seen Patton throw since surgery," Trembley said. "He said the way he pitched (Sunday) was the best he has felt since he had surgery."
Spoone also is recovering from shoulder surgery and Trembley said the 24-year-old righty from Pasadena needs to work on his conditioning and recapture his sinker.
"He needs to get himself into shape physically, he got a little heavy, and he needs to build his arm strength up and get that sinker back," Trembley said. "If he does he'd be a pretty good starting pitcher. He'd be a pretty good No. 5 guy."
Hernandez fractures finger
Catcher Michel Hernandez fractured his right index finger and will be out four to six weeks, which essentially eliminates him from the competition to be Matt Wieters' backup on Opening Day.
"He's real disappointed," Trembley said. "He did it a couple of days ago catching, blocking a ball in the dirt."
Hernandez, who was 2-for-8 this spring, had three at-bats on Saturday against the New York Yankees and said he had no pain swinging. But he couldn't throw on Sunday and X-Rays revealed the fracture.
Veteran Chad Moeller and Craig Tatum, who was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds, are the remaining finalists for the reserve catcher slot.
Millwood to pitch in intrasquad
Starter Kevin Millwood, who has allowed 16 hits and 11 runs in his 3 1/3 innings this spring, will throw five innings to Wieters in an intrasquad game today.
Trembley said pitching coach Rick Kranitz wanted Millwood to get his pitch count up without having to face American League East rivals.
Despite two straight poor performances to start the spring, Trembley said he's not overly concerned about Millwood, who is expected to be the team's Opening Day starter.
"I don't think he's searching. He's come out point blank and said, 'I stink in spring training, I always have.' But I don't think he's searching," Trembley said. "This is typically what he goes through in spring training."
Around the horn
Designated hitter Luke Scott, who hadn't played since Thursday while dealing with a hip pointer, hit a three-run homer in his second at-bat today against Boston starter Tim Wakefield. Scott, who hadn't homered in his first six spring games, also doubled and had four RBIs on the day. He expects to play in left field Tuesday. Outfielder Felix Pie, who hasn't played since last Wednesday because of left shoulder soreness, said that the pain is almost gone and he's hoping to resume light throwing and hitting Tuesday. Brandon Snyder hit his first homer of the spring today, a two-run shot against Ramon Ramirez.