SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles right-hander Koji Uehara said he has e-mailed with his extended family members in Japan and believes they are all fine after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the country's Eastern coast Friday.
"This morning, I heard about the news," Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. "The families are safe; some of the friends I can't get a hold of at this moment. I couldn't use phones, but e-mail I can use."
Uehara's wife and son are in Baltimore, but the rest of his family resides in or around Tokyo.
"It was in a different place, but there has been some damage where I live," Uehara said. "At this moment, I don't really know all the details yet, but I am guessing that the damage will be huge, so I am worried."
Although his family seemed fine, he said, he won't be completely satisfied until he hears their voices.
"I haven't really spoken to them directly yet, so I am still a little worried," said Uehara, who starred for Japan's Yomiuri Giants before joining the Orioles for the 2009 season.
Uehara said he has experienced earthquakes — though none of the Japan-record 8.9 magnitude — and, "all I can say is it's really scary."
Uehara was also asked about his balky right elbow, which has sidelined him since after the club's exhibition opener Feb. 28. He threw from flat ground Thursday.
"Not as scary as the earthquake," he said.
Bang also said he has been in e-mail contact with his family, and it appears to be safe as well.
Orioles cut 11 players
Manager Buck Showalter made his first cuts Friday, optioning six players and reassigning five others to minor league camp.
Pitchers Brandon Erbe, Chorye Spoone, Troy Patton and Pedro Viola were optioned to Triple-A Norfolk while pitcher Luis Lebron and infielder Pedro Florimon were optioned to Double-A Bowie.
The following four players, who were not on the 40-man roster, were re-assigned to minor league camp: pitchers Mitch Atkins and Raul Rivero, outfielder Tyler Henson and catchers Adam Donachie and Caleb Joseph.
The club's spring roster is at 46 players.
This was the first time Showalter has had to make cuts as Orioles manager.
"It wears you out a little emotionally," Showalter said. "You try to prepare and don't want them to think you just pulled it out of the sky."
Lee hoping to hit soon
First baseman Derrek Lee, who has not played in a game this spring because of right wrist soreness, said he continues to lift weights and participate in defensive drills. He said he might hit off a tee or in a soft-toss drill "in the next two or three days."
"Nothing's worse or anything," Lee said. "Just taking extra precautions to get it 100 percent."
Lee had a MRI this week that showed no damage to the wrist or his surgically repaired thumb. He still hopes to play later this spring.
"It's nice to know there's nothing wrong, which I knew, though. But it's always nice to see it [in the MRI]," Lee said. "It's a fact that my wrist is fine and my thumb is fine, so it's just a matter of getting the tendinitis out."
Around the horn
Zach Britton will start Saturday's game against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Chris Tillman is also expected to pitch. J.A. Happ will start for the Astros. … Reliever Jason Berken, who is attempting to win a long-relief role, pitched two perfect innings against the Phillies on Friday. … Jeremy Guthrie's next start will be Wednesday in a minor league game against Boston Red Sox farmhands. It allows Guthrie to stay on turn and not have to face the Tampa Bay Rays two weeks before he pitches against them in the regular season. Guthrie is expected to be the club's Opening Day starter, though Showalter has not made that official.