SARASOTA, Fla. — — On a scheduled day off at big league camp, Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie got his work in Monday, pitching six solid innings in a Triple-A game against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.
In his second-to-last outing before his expected Opening Day start April 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Guthrie allowed one run, four hits, no walks and struck out four. Though he went six innings, he actually got 20 outs as the team prolonged two of his frames to get his pitch count up. He threw 82 pitches, 56 for strikes.
"I enjoyed building up again and trying to get six innings, which we did. I was working on the execution of pitches, working on a couple of sequences," Guthrie said. "I felt a lot better today. I felt strong throughout the outing. That was good to throw 81 or 82 pitches and feel the same consistently throughout the outing."
Guthrie was particularly pleased with his stamina. In his previous outing against the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A team, he lacked the crispness on his pitches in his final two innings. That was not the case Monday. After Dustin Martin's RBI single in the second inning, Guthrie retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced.
"That was important to me, to not feel tired in the last innings," Guthrie said. "I didn't feel that today where the last game in the fifth inning, I felt like I had thrown more pitches than I had. That's good. That means the body is getting built up and prepared to hopefully work deep into the games."
If Guthrie stayed on his regular four-day schedule, his next start would be Saturday against the Rays in Port Charlotte. However, the club doesn't want him facing the Rays so close to their Opening Day matchup. That likely means manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor will start him on five days' rest Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.
The Orioles also play the Red Sox on Sunday as part of a split-squad arrangement. It makes more sense to put Guthrie up against the Jays because the Orioles don't face Toronto until June, while they have two series against Boston in April and May.
"I don't have a log of how I exactly feel or where I should exactly be, but I know I feel comfortable with my pitches, the execution of them, and today the third component is I feel like the stamina and strength is there to maintain the feel for those pitches late in the game," he said. "[I've] got one more shot to do it, then we'll start the regular season.
Picking up the pace
One of the more surprising developments in spring camp has been the increased speed of third baseman Josh Bell, who came to camp more than 20 pounds lighter. Over the past 10 days, he legged out a triple and nearly beat out a slow grounder to second base.
"Sometimes, I think it's how you feel, too. He feels like running. It's like somebody has taken a wheelbarrow off his back," Showalter said. "I looked at him last year, and I always thought this guy, under way, could run well. Now what you are seeing differently is not just under way, it is from the get-go."
Bell, 24, was drafted as a shortstop out of high school in 2005, but he said his game style changed when he became a professional player and was viewed as a power corner infielder.
"Before, I was a shortstop, a base stealer. That's part of the game I had," Bell said. "Obviously, after I was drafted
they stopped having me focused on it. They wanted me to be a guy that drove in runs, not a guy that scores runs."
He spent part of this offseason working with former Oriole Brady Anderson, and a lot of time was spent on acceleration drills. That helped, along with the weight loss. But Bell doesn't think he was as slow as he was labeled.
"I think last year a lot of people thought I was a lot slower than what I was. But this year, since I lost weight, they might think I am faster," Bell said. "To me, it's not really that much of a difference, but obviously, carrying around less weight, it is going to be. But to me, it is not that noticeable."
Around the horn
Derrek Lee reported to camp Monday to get treatment on his sore left foot, and Showalter said the first baseman is feeling better. Showalter is hoping Lee will be available to start Tuesday's game against the New York Yankees, possibly as the designated hitter. He also said that had this been the regular season, Lee most likely would be playing.
Chris Jakubauskas pitched three innings in the Double-A game Monday.
Top pitching prospect Zach Britton will start Tuesday against the Yankees at Ed Smith Stadium. Jason Berken and Michael Gonzalez are also scheduled to pitch. Chris Tillman, Koji Uehara and Josh Rupe are scheduled to throw in minor league games Tuesday.