O's hurlers enjoy distinguishing day
Skipper Trembley impressed with several outings after intrasquad match
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Who says you can't learn anything in an intrasquad game? The Orioles saw three of their veteran arms pitch in a game setting for the first time all spring Tuesday, and they also saw a performance from a young reliever and a young starter that may bode well for the future.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley came away from the 5-0 intrasquad matchup comforted about three pitchers -- Dennis Sarfate, Jamie Walker and George Sherrill -- and raving about two others. Trembley said that Hayden Penn and Kam Mickolio distinguished themselves Tuesday, even if it wasn't an actual game.
"I'll be very careful to give him too much, too soon as far as praise is concerned," Trembley said of Penn. "He needs to continue doing what he's doing. He's improved. He's gotten our attention."
Penn didn't just dominate, he also worked through adversity. The right-hander experienced a blister on his finger midway through his start, but he didn't let it derail his progress. Penn worked three innings and allowed just one hit, a double from Guillermo Rodriguez that came after he'd retired eight straight hitters.
And that kind of modest success -- even in an intrasquad game -- may go a long way. Baltimore has seen two early favorites for a rotation job (Rich Hill and Brad Hennessey) get slowed down by elbow ailments. And Penn, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2006, can sense that there may be an opportunity for him.
"It's easy to think about that, but I'm going to come out here and pitch my butt off," Penn said. "If it's not good enough, it's not good enough. I'm going to come in, really try to make this team and show that I deserve to be here."
Trembley, who also managed Penn in the Minor Leagues, said that the former fifth-round draftee is beginning to round into form. And he also said that Penn survived quite well after the blister took hold, pitching his final inning without throwing his breaking ball and getting by just fine with just his fastball and changeup.
The manager was also impressed by Mickolio, who was slowed early in camp with a strained groin. Trembley pronounced Mickolio the surprise of the day after the youngster struck out two batters and coaxed a ground ball. The skipper also said it was good to see his three veterans, who had been taking it slow.
"One, all three of them are coming off some arm issues," Trembley said of delaying Sarfate, Walker and Sherrill. "Two, we wanted to take a look at some of the other guys first. Three, they're all relievers, and we weren't in a hurry to get them out there. Four, with the thing [camp] being a week longer, [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] has it mapped out where he needed a certain amount of appearances from those guys. It really didn't come into play until now."
Sherrill, Baltimore's closer, said he felt no ill effects from a tired shoulder that limited him down the stretch last year. The southpaw allowed a single and also made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt that led to an unearned run, but he said that it felt good to get back on the mound and pitch in a real game setting.
More to the point, Sherrill said he feels great with a month to go before the season starts.
"I probably could go multi-innings if I had to, but I'm probably not fully ready for that," Sherrill said. "That will come, and we'll probably get a two-inning outing and a back-to-back. Right where I am right now is pretty good."
Sarfate, who pitched with a fractured clavicle for much of last season, agreed with that sentiment. The power right-hander hadn't pitched pain-free in quite some time, and he was thrilled with the sensation.
"I didn't try to throw as hard, but the ball was coming out of the hand good," Sarfate said. "I'm not even worried about how I'm going to feel tomorrow, because I've been throwing bullpens and throwing live batting practice. I think it's in the past now. I'll just keep looking ahead, keep on doing my stuff and keep looking forward to April 6."
Sarfate, who threw a scoreless inning, lamented the fact that two of his outs were on well-hit balls. But he also said that he just wanted to come away from the appearance healthy, making the outing a success.
"I'm sure Walker and Sherrill felt the same way to get out there and see some hitters and get into the mix," Sarfate said. "It's even better to throw against another team. I hate throwing against my own guys. You don't want to hit anybody and you don't want to pitch guys in, but it was good to get out there. Finally."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.