Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel meets Orioles again

Former O's manager says his old team should 'score some runs' under Showalter

March 02, 2011|By Peter Schmuck, The Baltimore Sun

CLEARWATER, Fla. — — Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel didn't get to finish the 2010 season as interim Orioles manager, and negotiations to return him to the O's coaching staff broke down over the winter, but he had nothing but good things to say about the organization Wednesday morning at Bright House Field.

"I thought I was heading back [to Baltimore], but it didn't happen to work out,'' he said. "We couldn't get on the same page."

Still, Samuel said that he was very happy — and grateful to Andy MacPhail — for the opportunity to get some managerial experience, and he bears no ill will torward the O's. He is one of two former Orioles managers on the Phillies coaching staff, along with Sam Perlozzo.

Samuel was replaced by Buck Showalter after managing the Orioles to a 17-34 record as the interim replacement for Dave Trembley, but he said he wasn't surprised that the club turned a corner during the final two months of the season.

"We had some players just getting ready to come back from rehab,'' he said. "Brian [Roberts] was a big part of that lineup. Obviously, Koji [Uehara] started pitching well. I was just happy those guys could finish up on a positive note after a very troubled year."

This year, he said, should be better with all of the Orioles' offseason acquisitions.

"I still keep an eye on them,'' he said. "They did very well. They should be able to score some runs."

Tillman uneven

Starting pitcher Chris Tillman gave up a run on three hits over two innings of work, and had mixed feelings about his results.

"My body felt good,'' he said. "I was a little jumpy. Too excited. … I tried to see the result instead of focusing on the pitch."

He didn't exactly get hammered. He struck out Jimmy Rollins to open the game and got No. 2 hitter Placido Polanco to ground out, but Raul Ibanez singled and Ryan Howard jacked one off the right-field fence for the only run.

Unlike the first two Grapefruit League games in Bradenton and Sarasota, the wind was blowing in pretty well, which probably kept the Howard shot in the park.

"It was good to get the first one out of the way,'' Tillman said. "I felt OK. I liked what I saw. I just need to pull in the reigns a little bit."

Lee getting close

First baseman Derrek Lee is closing in on his Orioles Grapefruit League debut. Showalter said that he could be in the lineup this weekend, perhaps sooner.

"That's his call," Showalter said. "He hit again today. He's thinking about what day now instead of an open end. I think it's starting to close up a little bit."

Lee has been making steady progress in his comeback from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. He took batting practice again on Wednesday and — conceivably — could ask to play on Thursday or Friday. But Showalter is in no hurry to put him out there.

Bell at both corners

Josh Bell started at third base Wednesday, but his brief appearance at first base late in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays probably is a sign of things to come.

"Potentially," Showalter said. "He had a real good session with Willie [Randolph] and those guys in the morning. I wanted to get him one inning just to get him out there, and of course they hit him a ground ball."

Bell made the unassisted putout.

Around the horn

Right-hander Justin Duchscherer threw off flat ground Wednesday morning at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. If he continues to rebound from hip soreness, he will move up to a mound in the next few days. … Jim Johnson and Michael Gonzalez each pitched scoreless innings in their first exhibition appearances. … Mitch Atkins, who has been sidelined for much of camp with an oblique strain, also played catch. … Nolan Reimold struck out in his first at-bat against Phillies starter Roy Oswalt, cracking his perfect on-base percentage. He had reached base in all four plate appearances in his spring debut Monday.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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