Roberts, Duchscherer examined; Lee, Uehara make progress with injuries

First base prospect Mahoney sent to Triple-A camp; Showalter likes rotation candidates

March 14, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles' spring training MASH unit had a busy day Monday.

Second baseman Brian Roberts had an MRI on his back in the afternoon. He will meet with his specialist at 9 a.m. Tuesday to go over the results. It's the same doctor who worked with Roberts in 2010.

Right-handed pitcher Justin Duchscherer had an MRA on his left hip late Monday afternoon. He visited a chiropractor in the morning. An MRA is similar to a MRI, except dye is injected into the ailing joint. It provides a more specific readout — if the dye spills out, it is an indication of damage.

First baseman Derrek Lee (right wrist) hit off a tee Monday. On Tuesday, he will hit soft toss with hopes of also taking part in live batting practice.

"I think the week of rest and treatment was really good for it because I was swinging in the cage and it felt good," said Lee, who hasn't played in a game. "But I'm not going to get too excited and start rushing like I did before. I am just going to take baby steps."

Right-hander Koji Uehara (elbow discomfort) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Monday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Uehara will throw again on the side Wednesday and could pitch in a game "sometime by the end of this week." Uehara hasn't pitched since the exhibition opener Feb. 28.

"I was told to go easy," Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang about Monday's session. "I didn't go 100 percent, but still, it went well."

Mahoney sent down

Orioles minor league hitter of the year Joe Mahoney was optioned to Triple-A camp Monday morning after hitting .412 (seven hits in 17 at-bats) in limited action. The 6-foot-6 first baseman, who was sidelined the past two games after tweaking his hamstring while running the bases Friday, made quite an impression in his first big league camp.

"This guy really popped last year with his skill set," Showalter said. "He's a slightly above-average runner, capable of playing left field and first base. I like that he wasn't intimidated by the level of play. He's right where he should be. I think he's primed to have that year that's similar to last year and maybe even better."

Mahoney, a sixth-round pick in 2006, emerged as a prospect last season by hitting .299 with nine homers in 72 games at High-A Frederick and .319 with nine homers in 52 games at Double-A Bowie.

With an expected logjam in the corner infield at Triple-A, it's possible Mahoney starts the season at Bowie. Just because he has been optioned to the Norfolk roster doesn't mean he'll start out there. Regardless, Showalter thinks Mahoney could rise quickly if he continues to build on his impressive 2010.

"Where he ends up is up to him," Showalter said. "Where he starts is up to [player development]."

Showalter happy with options

With Duchscherer likely not available for the start of the season, the competition for the Orioles' rotation has lessened by one. The club could look at options outside of camp via trade or free-agent scraps, but Showalter said he's fine choosing from the current player pool.

"The only thing I look at as a field manager is we're looking at options internally, and they're pretty good. I'm OK with that," he said. "Whether Andy [MacPhail] and our scouts think there are better options out there, I'll leave it to them. We're all aware of who might be out there, but we're not at that point yet. But that's a constant thing that scouts and [the] front office do. But my focus is on the people we have here."

One potential fit is right-hander Kevin Millwood, who made 31 starts for the Orioles in 2010 and is still without a job this spring. But the Orioles and Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, have not talked about Millwood since December's winter meetings.

Around the horn

With the Mahoney move, the Orioles have 45 players in spring training camp. ... Brad Bergesen and Ryan Drese are expected to pitch Tuesday against the Houston Astros at Ed Smith Stadium. Right-hander Aneury Rodriguez is expected to start for the Astros, who also are bringing top pitching prospect Jordan Lyles. … Right fielder Nick Markakis had three hits Monday and is batting .375 this spring. Right-hander Jason Berken didn't allow a run in one inning Monday and has thrown three consecutive scoreless innings after allowing runs in two of his first three outings. … Jeremy Accardo didn't allow a run in two innings but escaped a two-on, none-out jam in the fifth thanks to an unassisted double play by Mark Reynolds and Markakis' run-saving throw from right field.

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