03/24/12 5:06 PM ET
Role of O's backup catcher still up for grabs
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"Since I've been here, I feel like every day I've been getting better," said Paulino, who acknowledged that the toughest part of being a late arrival is getting to know all of the pitchers in a new organization.
"Every day I am catching a different guy," he said. "But at the same time, it's helping me get the chance to know each of the guys."
Paulino is competing for the role of backup to Matt Wieters, a job that is still largely up for grabs given Taylor Teagarden's back injury and Paulino's late start.
"We've got some options to pick from, and we will continue to look at them behind Matt until we have all the information that the time will allow us to gather, whether it be health or an evaluation," manager Buck Showalter said. "We still have some things up in the air behind Matt, so we will take the time to answer those questions."
Dan Duquette, executive vice president of baseball operations, acknowledged earlier this week that the organization is very unlikely to add a catching option at this point, and Showalter echoed that on Saturday.
"One of the hardest things to find, always, is [a backup catcher]," he said. "We are happy with our options here, and we will see which way we go."
'So far, so good,' says Markakis of recovery
SARASOTA, Fla. -- There was some thought to having Nick Markakis serve at designated hitter on Saturday against the Nationals, but manager Buck Showalter ultimately decided not to deviate from the outfielder's original schedule and kept him out of the lineup.
"We had a schedule that he and the doctors and the trainers and myself ... all looked at, and I'm going to stay with that," Showalter said. "It's working out real well the way we're doing it. I'm not going to throw something different at it right now. After thinking about it, I'm not going to take any chances with disrupting his progress."
Markakis, who played his second spring game in right field on Friday, characterized his progress as "so far, so good" and said he hasn't had any pain or setbacks as he recovers from offseason surgery on his abdomen. At this point the biggest thing is getting his natural reactions back, particularly his first crossover step in right field.
"Yeah, I won't be DHing unless [Showalter] asks me if I want a day here or there that's not on the schedule, just to plug me in to get a couple of at-bats," said Markakis, who will start in right field on Monday night against the Pirates. "For the most part, I want to be out there. I need to get my work in, and I need to get into live game situations out in the field."
The way the Orioles' schedule works out, Markakis will be ready to go for Opening Day on April 6, and that remains his ultimate goal.
"It's a special day, a day you want to be out there," he said. "I'll do whatever I can to be out there."
Mixed results for Arrieta, Willis vs. Nats
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta had another solid start on Saturday afternoon in Baltimore's 12-3 win over Washington, and he continues to make a strong case to be the Opening Day starter.
The 26-year-old allowed a first-inning run and settled in after that, not allowing another baserunner until the fifth. He retired 12 in a row at one point and exited after throwing 72 pitches, 40 for strikes, in the five-inning outing.
"[I] was throwing across my body a little bit at the start of the game," Arrieta said. "[It was] just one of those days in spring where you go out and feel a little bit off physically. I wasn't tired or didn't feel bad. I felt a little uncomfortable at the start of the game. Our bullpen mounds here are really high, and the game mound is drastically different. That's a little adjustment there -- the first inning. Just continuing to stay on my line and throwing across my body is what really helps me refine my rhythm and tempo."
Arrieta, whose fastball was consistently clocked at 94 mph, also picked up a pair of strikeouts and said that his goal moving forward is to throw his breaking ball for strikes.
"That's really all I want to do from here on out, throw all my pitches," he said. "The physical strength is there. Everything is there. It's just a matter of continuing to refine those pitches and get a little bit better out of the stretch and get a little better tempo and really work on keeping that for the entirety of the game."
Arrieta was followed by Dontrelle Willis, who had a rocky Orioles debut, issuing three consecutive walks in the sixth, leading to two runs (one earned).
Willis, who signed a Minor League contract on Wednesday, had thrown two bullpen sessions since his arrival, and his fastball on Saturday ranged from 82-87 mph. Working with the bases loaded and no outs, he got Jesus Flores to pop up, then the Nats pushed across a run on Corey Brown's groundout. Mark Reynolds' two-out throwing error allowed a second run to score.
Willis, who threw 12 of 28 pitches for strikes, finished his work in the bullpen.
"I try to keep in mind that it's been eight days since he's pitched [in a game]," manager Buck Showalter said of Willis. "And we should have got out of the inning unscathed, if we defend."
Angelos pays a visit to O's clubhouse
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Majority owner Peter Angelos made a rare visit inside the team's new clubhouse area prior to Saturday's game against the Nationals, a 12-3 win. Angelos, who was joined by his son, Lou, also attended Friday's game at Ed Smith Stadium.
"It was great having him here," manager Buck Showalter said. "The players were excited. Guys who have been here a while, it was really good for them to see [him]. They enjoyed it."
Angelos, the organization's managing partner since August 1993, typically makes a yearly visit to Florida for Spring Training.
"He should be very proud of what he accomplished with this locker room and this facility," Showalter said of the renovations that have made the Orioles' spring home a world-class facility. "The [support from the] city, the county and everything and, of course, Peter had to sign off on finishing off a few things that put it at a little different level. [The] same thing with some of the improvements at Camden Yards."
Shortstop J.J. Hardy returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing two days with a sore right shoulder. Outfielder Endy Chavez (groin) was not available on Saturday; he hasn't played since Wednesday. Manager Buck Showalter said that the team will take a cautious approach with Chavez.
Alfredo Simon will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, his first since coming out of his start on March 18 with discomfort in his groin.
Jason Berken is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the Phillies.
Tsuyoshi Wada will pitch on Tuesday against Minnesota in relief of starter Wei-Yin Chen.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.