Orioles' Derrek Lee happy with his spring debut

First baseman walks, strikes out in club's 7-5 loss to Phillies

March 19, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — Derrek Lee's spring debut as an Oriole was rather uneventful, which was perfectly fine with him.

The veteran first baseman, who had been out with a sore wrist this spring, walked, struck out and scored a run in two official plate appearances in the Orioles' 7-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies before an Ed Smith Stadium-record crowd of 8,549.

He also fielded two ground balls cleanly at first base.

"It feels great. I was happy. [The wrist] wasn't an issue," Lee said. "I didn't feel it swinging. I kind of landed on it going for a ball and didn't feel it. I was happy with it."

Lee, who signed a $7.25 million, one-year contract with the Orioles this offseason, expects to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte and get at least three plate appearances.

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who has been out since March 7 with back spasms, also is tentatively scheduled to play Sunday.

"Two at-bats and played four [innings] in the field," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said about Lee. "He felt good and he'll make the trip [Sunday] as long as he doesn't come in [Sunday] with soreness or something. It will be good to see him and [Roberts] on the field together."

Lee came to the plate twice Saturday against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels. In his first appearance, he quickly got in an 0-2 count before walking on four straight pitches to load the bases. He scored the club's third run of the first inning on a Randy Winn ground out.

In the second inning, Lee battled to a full count again before striking out — one of five by Hamels, who allowed five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

"I wish I didn't swing at the 3-2 ball, but other than that, it was good," Lee said.

Jake Fox pinch-hit for Lee in the fourth inning.

Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta left in the fifth Saturday after walking his first two batters of the inning and then getting a pop-up from Jimmy Rollins.

Clay Rapada entered in relief and Shane Victorino hit Rapada's second pitch over the left-field wall to tie the game at 5-5. It was the third homer yielded by Rapada in 6 2/3 innings this spring.

Arrieta was charged with four runs on four hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and served up a two-run homer to John Mayberry Jr., his fifth of the spring and third against the Orioles.

"I did a really poor job of execution there," Arrieta said of the Mayberry at-bat. "Pulled a lot of pitches out of the zone, didn't throw a breaking ball for a strike and ended up having to throw him a fastball that caught too much of the plate. He put a good swing on it.

"Other than that, the two walks in the fifth. You just can't walk the eight and nine hitters. You can't do it, but that's something I am not too worried about. I know that my command has gotten a lot better and I have been really able to avoid situations like that for the most part."

Arrieta — whose ERA is now 5.40 in four games — threw 79 pitches, 48 for strikes in his longest outing of the spring.

The Phillies took the lead for good in the seventh with two runs against Michael Gonzalez, including a solo homer by catcher Erik Kratz.

Vladimir Guerrero led the Orioles' nine-hit attack with three hits and two RBIs. He is batting .341 in the spring.

The Orioles dropped to 9-11-2 in exhibition games.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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