Orioles' Andino plans to make most of chance to play shortstop

With Hardy headed to DL, he'll split time with Izturis; Matusz throws pain-free

April 12, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK — In a perfect world, Robert Andino wouldn't get this opportunity at the expense of an injured teammate. But after getting designated for assignment by the Orioles at the end of last spring and spending the majority of the 2010 season in the minor leagues, Andino knows how fleeting big league opportunities are.

With J.J. Hardy headed to the disabled list with a strained left oblique and expected to miss up to three weeks, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he plans to get both Andino and Cesar Izturis starts at shortstop.

Andino was in the lineup Tuesday night before the Orioles' series opener against the New York Yankees was rained out. It would have been his third straight start and the second at shortstop. He started the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Texas Rangers in left field and moved to shortstop when Hardy was injured.

"Like I've said, if they give me a chance, I'm going to go out there and do my best," Andino said. "I'm not trying to stress this year. I'm going to control what I can control, and that's it. I'm going to go out there and be prepared and just play hard. Of course, if I get an opportunity to play, I'm going to be excited. Who doesn't want to play? I know my role here, and the time I go out there, I'm just going to play hard and have fun."

Andino saw his contact purchased by the Orioles on Sept. 1 as Showalter wanted to take a look at the talented but enigmatic infielder. Andino made 10 starts, though just two at shortstop, and hit .295 with two homers and six RBIs. He made a good impression on Showalter, who stressed the importance this offseason of adding middle-infield depth with the health problems of starting second baseman Brian Roberts.

"He's got a lot of ability if he can just get his clock adjusted to the game, when to speed up, when to slow down. He's got a chance to impact our club," Showalter said. "We'll move that around between him and Izzy. I think I saw enough of him last year to know that the potential is there. He can do some things and help your club in a lot of ways, not just defensively. We feel like he and Izzy have a chance to hopefully give up a seamless situation until J.J. gets back."

Matusz has good day

Starter Brian Matusz threw pain-free from 60 feet Tuesday at the club's spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., his first throwing session since being put on the DL with a strained left intercostal muscle.

Showalter said Matusz could rejoin the club when it returns home next week and throw a couple of side sessions in front of pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair. He would then likely go on a rehabilitation assignment, which could be lengthy considering that Matusz has not faced a big league team since a March 23 Grapefruit League outing against the Minnesota Twins.

"As soon as he's able to get on a mound, he may come back to us," Showalter said. "Maybe by the end of this road trip, he could conceivably come back and do his side work with Mark and Rick. That's what we hope. … We will be careful."

Accardo finding new home

Reliever Jeremy Accardo has pitched in two of the Orioles' first nine games this season and warmed up for several others, but the 29-year-old right-hander feels his new club values him a lot more than his old one.

Accardo made the Blue Jays' Opening Day roster last season and didn't make his first appearance until April 12, Toronto's seventh game. He got into five games in the month of April, allowing six runs in 62/3 innings before being jettisoned to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he stayed for the rest of the season.

"They didn't give us much chance to succeed," said Accardo, who signed a one-year deal with the Orioles in December. "It was tough."

In two appearances this season, Accardo has allowed one earned run, three hits and two walks while striking out one over 22/3 innings. A former closer who saved 30 games for Toronto in 2007, Accardo is working in a middle-relief role and also could take on long-man responsibilities depending on the state of the Orioles' bullpen.

"It feels like it is a big burden off my shoulders and a big weight off my back just being able to come in here with a fresh slate and with people wanting you to succeed, and there's just not as much pressure," Accardo said. "You just go out and do your job, and if you pitch the way you can, you'll be all right."

Hendrickson struggling

With the Orioles continually trying to find the right mix for their bullpen, the chances of Mark Hendrickson earning an early-season promotion from Triple-A Norfolk appeared good. However, the veteran left-hander has struggled mightily in his first two outings with the Tides after making 105 appearances for the Orioles over the past two seasons.

Hendrickson, whose last minor league appearance before this year came in 2003, is 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA for Norfolk. He has allowed seven runs, nine hits, three home runs and a walk over five innings.

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