SARASOTA, Fla. -- It was nowhere near the same atmosphere as a Grapefruit League game, but Orioles right-hander Jair Jurrjens said his three-inning outing in Tuesday’s intrasquad game was another step forward in returning to his past form.
Of the 10 batters Jurrjens retired — he pitched to an extra hitter to end his second inning of work — he struck out eight. He walked none and allowed two hits.
“Much better,” Jurrjens said. “More powerful today. I'm seeing my location getting better, keeping the ball down. I felt good.”
Jurrjens faced three major league hitters — Taylor Teagarden, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit — in each inning, but they were followed by minor leaguers. Both of the hits off Jurrjens were doubles, one by Teagarden and the other from Betemit.
In 5 2/3 Grapefruit League innings this spring, Jurrjens has allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and six walks with two strikeouts.
In Jurrjens’ last Grapefruit League outing a week earlier in Dunedin, he was one strike away from throwing three scoreless innings against the Blue Jays, but a two-out walk led to a three-run inning.
Jurrjens said he’s continuing to become more comfortable throwing all of his pitches for strikes.
“I threw a couple changeups for strikes on righties, back-door sliders,” he said. “It's improving. I still need to try to throw fastballs inside. I'm working on throwing fastballs inside on both sides.
“Way improved,” he added. “[I’m] still on my changeup, I'm like thinking about it a little bit, but overall I think the day was a big improvement.”
Jurrjens also noted that the strength in his surgically repaired right knee — which led to diminished velocity last season — is better than in 2012.
“If I needed to start comparing, I’d say I’m way above what I was last year,” Jurrjens said. “[There] are still places to go in getting stronger, but for now, if I need to judge it from last year, I’m way above [last year].
“The main thing is I'm pain-free and I'm getting confident on the mound again.”
Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, the 2011 National League All-Star is one 14 starting rotation candidates.
McCutchen testing new delivery
Right-hander Daniel McCutchen tested a new delivery with a lower arm slot in Tuesday’s intrasquad game.
The non-roster invitee — who began the spring with 2 2/3 scoreless innings before allowing five runs on seven hits in a 1 2/3-inning stint on Thursday — hit one batter, walked another and threw a wild pitch in his inning of work.
Six-foot-nine left-hander Mark Hendrickson is trying out a sidearm delivery for the first time in his career and 6-foot-8 right-hander Adam Russell also throws from a lower arm slot on occasion.
Around the horn
Reimold (sore throwing shoulder) threw from 90 feet without problems Tuesday. Showalter said he’s “getting closer” to returing to the outfield, which he hasn’t done since abruptly leaving a game on March 1. Since then, he’s been exclusively used as a DH. … Chris Tillman (abdominal soreness) played catch Tuesday with no complaints and is improving. He’s considered day to day. ... Catcher Luis Martinez (left oblique strain), who has been reassigned to minor league camp, is a full go. He will play in major league spring training games as the Orioles weigh whether Martinez or Luis Exposito will be No. 3 on the organization’s catching depth chart behind Matt Wieters and Teagarden. … Top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop went 1-for-4 with a run and a walk in the Netherlands’ 10-6 loss to Japan in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday. … Showalter said he hasn’t decided whether Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman will start Thursday’s game against the Rays in Sarasota. The organization’s top two pitching prospects both pitched Saturday against Boston, with Bundy starting. … The Orioles named Nelson Norman their director of baseball operations in the Dominican Republic. He will oversee all of the organization's activities in the Dominican, including the team's academy and summer league team.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times