Orioles left-hander Dana Eveland entered his Grapefruit League start Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays as a dark horse to make the team's starting rotation.
While other pitchers have been working their inning counts into the teens, Eveland came into the day having thrown just nine innings this spring. His previous two outings were single-inning relief appearances, and his last start had been 17 days earlier.
Against a Blue Jays lineup that included seven position-player starters, Eveland didn't do much to help his chances Wednesday. The 28-year-old journeyman contact pitcher had his longest outing of the spring (51 pitches, 34 strikes) in the Orioles' 9-3 loss at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, but he also gave up three runs on six hits — including three doubles — over four innings.
"I hadn't been extended in my last couple outings, so I just went out there and tried my best to try to go my four innings or however long [manager Buck Showalter] wanted me to go today," Eveland said. "Obviously, it's a different game when you're going in [for] one inning and you can throw your best stuff and then you're done versus in a start, when you have to try to last a little longer. I was happy with the fact that my body felt good the whole entire time. I didn't get tired at all."
Afterward, Eveland said he couldn't see himself in the Orioles' starting rotation because he wasn't stretched out enough.
"It was just my third start of spring, but it was my first time really getting extended," he said. "I wouldn't be ready to go seven innings next week, so I don't know if that is a possibility. If I could slide into the long-relief job or the lefty guy in the 'pen, that would be great. But we have a lot of great competition in camp. There are four left-handers who could possibly fill in that bullpen job. Who knows what's going to happen?"
Showalter begged to differ, saying Eveland is still in the mix.
"Everybody's a candidate right now," Showalter said. "We've got time for, really, two more starts if you look at the fifth starter, but if he sees it that way ... I'm not sure. If he was a little more efficient with his pitches, he could have pitched five innings today."
Simon struggles in return
Right-hander Alfredo Simon's role with the club — if he manages to make the 25-man roster out of camp — became a little clearer after his outing Wednesday.
Simon, who hadn't pitched since coming out of a start March 18 with a groin injury, struggled in two innings of relief. He threw 35 pitches and allowed six runs on six hits and a walk. Simon said his main goal was to come out of the outing healthy by throwing his fastball often.
"He pitched like a guy who had nine days off," Showalter said. "He'll be better next time out."
Showalter said it's "probably a push" to still consider Simon a starting candidate for the beginning of the season because the groin injury set him back.
"[Pitching coach] Rick [Adair] and I will talk on the way back and see where his next outing will be," Showalter said. "He battled to get through two innings today. He threw a lot of pitches. Rick and I will talk about it."
Simon said he believes there's enough time to raise his pitch count in order to be ready to start.
"I just have to wait this week and see what happens," he said. "Those guys know that I can be a starter or can be in the bullpen, depending on what they decide to do."
Hardy gets cortisone shot
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who last played Monday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, received a cortisone shot Tuesday to treat soreness in his right shoulder and isn't expected back until Friday at the earliest.
"He's a little sore from [the injection] today, but he's getting there. I'm hoping he's a Friday player," Showalter said.
Showalter said team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens examined Hardy's shoulder Tuesday and recommended the shot as a precaution. Hardy has been bothered by a sore shoulder since he missed two days last week. He has played in just two of the Orioles' past seven Grapefruit League games.
"Just go ahead and not take any chances," Showalter said. "Go ahead and get it resolved. Hope that's the case."
Around the horn
Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Flaherty continues to impress with his bat. Flaherty's two-run single in the third gave him 10 RBIs this spring, second to Adam Jones' 11. … Reliever Jim Johnson allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh. His fastball was steadily at 90-91 mph, peaking at 92, according to the stadium radar gun. … Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen has been chosen to start Sunday's Grapefruit League finale against the Rays. Right-hander Tommy Hunter will also pitch Sunday in a minor league game. … Left-hander Zach Phillips, who has allowed just two runs in 111/3 innings, threw a scoreless ninth inning, but Showalter wasn't necessarily impressed. "Two hard-hit balls," he said. "I don't know if you'd call that 'well.'"… Left-hander Zach Britton said his shoulder is pain free after he received platelet-rich plasma injections a week ago. He has begun pool therapy rehabilitation and will continue working with recently hired trainer Chris Correnti, who has worked with Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana and Derek Lowe. … Jason Esposito, the Orioles' second-round pick last year, was 2-for-3 with a double.
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