Orioles right-hander Jair Jurrjens struggles with control vs. Twins

SportsJair JurrjensBaltimore OriolesBaseballMinnesota TwinsSpring TrainingYamaico Navarro

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After struggling mightily with his control in an ugly one-inning start Thursday, Orioles right-hander Jair Jurrjens acknowledged that lingering flaws in his mechanics are rooted from nagging problems with his right knee.

Jurrjens, who threw two innings in his spring debut Sunday, lasted just one frame Thursday in the Orioles’ 7-1 Grapefruit League loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.

He battled with his control throughout, allowing three earned runs on two hits and three walks. Of his 34 pitches, he threw just 13 strikes. Of the eight hitters he faced, he threw just two first-pitch strikes.

“We’re still trying to familiarize ourselves with him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got a lot of sink there. He’ll get better. We’ll see if he can get better the next time out. It’s been a while for him, so I’d lean on whatever he has to tell you.

“He’s missing down,” Showalter added.” Everything’s down. I’d feel a lot different if he was missing up, away, in, out. It’s just all down.”

Jurrjens — signed to a minor league deal after questions about his knee squashed an earlier proposed major league contract — said he his mechanics are “out of whack,” from his release point to flying open in his delivery.

“[It’s] a mechanics issue,” said Jurrjens, who has been pitching with a brace on his right knee. “I think having been in bad habits for a couple of years. I just got to figure out how to get the good habits back, the good timing. Get that feel back.”

“By trying to find a way to pitch without feeling pain, you tweak some stuff with your mechanics. You compensate and mess up more stuff.”

Jurrjens struggled from the beginning against the Twins. After Darin Mastroianni led off the bottom of the first inning with a double down the left-field line, Jurrjens issues back-to-back one-out walks to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to load the bases.

Justin Morneau then hit a 2-0 pitch down the right-field line, plating three runs. Another run scored on a fielding error by second baseman Yamaico Navarro, who bobbled a relay throw from right fielder Conor Jackson.

Jurrjens then issued a four-pitch walk to catcher Ryan Doumit before getting a pop out from Chris Parmelee and a ground out to short off the bat of Trevor Plouffe.

“It’s a long spring training [luckily] for me,” Jurrjens said. “I’m going to keep working and try to find that release point and [make] the ball do what it’s supposed to do.

“I’ll definitely try to take [from] what happened in this game. I’m going to try to pay more attention to the bullpen and work more deeply on the release point.”

Jurrjens’ fastball topped 92 mph multiple times, but it ran steadily at 88-90 mph.

Jurrjens, who has now allowed four runs (three earned) in three spring innings, was the third Orioles starter in as many games to be pulled because of pitch count before completing two innings. Thursday’s loss was the Orioles’ first in six Grapefruit League games this spring.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SportsJair JurrjensBaltimore OriolesBaseballMinnesota TwinsSpring TrainingYamaico Navarro
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