Orioles' Duchscherer frustrated but uplifted by throwing session

Starter feels no hip pain during flat-ground outing; Reynolds' grand slam highlights intrasquad game

February 27, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — A day after being shut down with recurring hip soreness, Orioles starter Justin Duchscherer acknowledged this morning that he was concerned and described his frustration level as a "10 out of 10." But a painless flat-ground throwing session later in the day left him a little more optimistic even though he won't make his originally scheduled exhibition start Wednesday.

"We'll treat it symptomatically," he said. "Hopefully, it's just inflammation."

Duchscherer, who said he felt "awesome" after a bullpen session Thursday, reported to Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday complaining of soreness. He was held out of workouts that day and declined to comment when asked about his health before exiting the clubhouse.

"Anytime my hip doesn't feel 100 percent, I'm concerned because I've been through this three times before," Duchscherer said. "Like I said, we're going to be cautious and make sure we don't push it too far too quick because I know the result of that. … I hope it wasn't rude yesterday. I just wasn't in the mood to talk about it. It's been a long road. It's certainly difficult."

Duchscherer, 33, has a congenital hip problem — essentially, the tops of his femurs are too big for his hip joints — that has led to three surgeries in the past four years. He had procedures on his right hip in 2007 and 2008, and his left hip was surgically repaired in June.

"I know what it's supposed to feel like, and I know the last couple days it hasn't felt as good as it was feeling, so when something like that happens, obviously my first move is to go in there and say: 'Hey, something's not right. Let's see what we can do to keep it from getting worse,'" Duchscherer said. "I've just got to feel my body and work through that. I've had two surgeries on the right hip. This one's different. It's the landing leg, so I don't know where the line is where I keep pushing through it, whether it's going to get better and go away, so I'm learning as I go with this."

The Orioles knew of the risks signing the oft-injured pitcher, who has been on the disabled list six times in the past five years and has made only five starts since 2008. Duchscherer's contract is an incentive-laden, one-year $700,000 deal that expands to $1.1 million if the right-hander makes the Opening Day roster.

Grand start for Reynolds

Mark Reynolds approached the plate for his first at-bat as an Oriole with one thing in mind: "I just didn't want to be the first to strike out," he said.

Batting fifth for the home team in Sunday's intrasquad game, Reynolds fell behind 1-2 before launching a curveball from Chorye Spoone over the left-center-field wall for a grand slam.

"I told [hitting coach Jim Presley], 'There's nowhere to go but down from here,'" Reynolds said. "I barreled it; I hit it pretty good. … The wind was blowing in today. But if you juice one, it's gone. I thought both sides swung the bat real well. I know the pitchers are just working on some stuff. It makes you feel good about where you are at to get in there and square some stuff up and get back in the flow of it."

In his next at-bat, Reynolds flirted with another homer, but it died in the glove of Nolan Reimold in front of the left-field wall. But all in all, he was encouraged by his first opportunity to hit in game situations.

"It's obviously good to make a first impression, but a long way to go," he said. "A lot more at-bats. Talk to me at the end of the year."

More intrasquad highlights

The home team won the seven-inning intrasquad game, 7-4, with Reynolds playing the starring role. Adam Jones and Randy Winn hit solo home runs, and Josh Bell hit a two-run triple and heard his defense at third base praised by manager Buck Showalter after the game.

Vladimir Guerrero had an infield single and an RBI groundout, minor league shortstop Pedro Florimon had three hits and Felix Pie added two infield singles.

Chris Jakubauskas started for the home team and pitched two perfect innings, getting all six outs on ground balls.

First base prospect Joe Mahoney, the organization's reigning minor league position player of the year, fouled a ball off the inside of his right knee and limped to the clubhouse. He'll be re-evaluated to see whether he can play in Monday's game.

No closer to closer

While it's expected that Showalter will choose between Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg as his closer, don't expect an announcement soon.

"There are a lot of angles as far as the timing [of] when it gets decided," Showalter said. "I'm not going to commit to that right now in February, say exactly on this date we're going to name a guy. I haven't seen Gregg really throw like a lot of these guys. I really haven't seen [Jason] Berken healthy throw. I haven't seen a lot of these guys this time of year. It might take awhile. I'm not saying it will be clear-cut, but I hope it is."

Around the horn

Brian Roberts (stiff neck) got through a second straight workout with no limitations or problems. … After a day off to let the soreness in his surgically repaired right thumb subside, Derrek Lee took batting practice and looked much more comfortable than he did Friday … With Duchscherer scratched from Wednesday's start, Chris Tillman will start in his place against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. Tillman was originally supposed to follow Brad Bergesen in Monday's Grapefruit League opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, but that assignment will go to Ryan Drese. The Orioles starters for this week's exhibition games are: Bergesen (Monday), Jeremy Guthrie (Tuesday), Tillman (Wednesday), Brian Matusz (Thursday) and Jake Arrieta (Friday).

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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