O's pitcher Drese not ready to give up dream

March 26, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec | The Baltimore Sun

PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA — The reality is that right-hander Ryan Drese is an extreme long shot to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster, but after not appearing in a big league game since 2006, the veteran won't give up hope until a final decision is made.

"I'm sure hoping my name is called, whether it's starting or relieving," said Drese after allowing two earned runs and five hits in the Orioles' 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays today before 5,726 at Charlotte Sports Park. "Nobody's heard anything yet. It's going to come down to the last few days. It may even come down to the intrasquad game we play. Still hoping, and hopefully get one more shot out there. I don't know. We'll see what happens."

The Orioles improved to 13-13-2 in their Grapefruit League schedule as Vladimir Guerrero continued his torrid spring by breaking a 2-2 tie in the eighth with a two-run homer off Rays lefty Cesar Ramos. Guerrero, who hit a low liner that bounced onto the berm beyond the left-field fence, is hitting .345 with five homers and 17 RBIs this spring.

Leadoff man Brian Roberts went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs, a walk, sacrifice fly and his first spring homer, a solo shot in the third inning off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. Shortstop J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and Matt Wieters had an RBI double as part of the Orioles' five-run eighth.

Drese gave up a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the bottom of the first and an RBI single to B.J. Upton in the second before retiring five of the final six hitters that he faced.

The 34-year-old, who won 14 games in 2004 for the Texas Rangers while pitching for current Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Mark Connor, allowed just one run on four hits in his first three outings spanning seven innings this spring. In his last three outings, he's surrendered 13 earned runs and 18 hits in 7 2/3 innings, leaving him with an 8.59 spring ERA.

Drese said that he has a verbal opt out clause where he can refuse an assignment to Norfolk and become a free agent, but "I'm not even thinking about that right now. I feel really good and that's the important thing for me, being out for a while. Just coming back and getting consistent work."

Jason Berken relieved Drese and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three to lower his ERA to 3.46. Josh Rupe then turned in two scoreless innings, and still hasn't given up an earned run in 13 2/3 innings this spring. Berken and Rupe are top candidates to break camp in long relief roles.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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