BRADENTON, Fla. — Breaking balls? What breaking balls? Lefty Paul Maholm took that weapon out of his arsenal today in the 6-4 loss against the Orioles. and instead focused on pitching inside with fastballs and changeups.
“I didn’t get ahead of as many hitters as I wanted, but for the most part it felt good,” Maholm said. “I went after guys. I was a little jumpy and left some over the plate, but that’s the first outing of spring. It happens.”
Maholm gave up two runs on four hits over two innings. He also struck out two and picked a runner off first base. Maholm isn’t bothered by the early dink on his spring ERA.
“I’d love to be perfect for all of spring training. But, I’ve learned I’ve got to be sure I’m ready for April,” he said. “If that takes me going out there today and throwing nothing but fastballs and changeups and cutters in, that’s what I’ll do. I’m not trying to strike out everybody.”
Will he break out the breaking balls in his next outing? “I’m going to see how the bullpen goes,” Maholm said. “My sinker was good today. I was trying to work on four-seamers and other pitches inside. We’ll see how it goes in the bullpen. If I think I need another outing where it’s fastballs and changeups, that’s what I’ll do. I know my breaking balls are there during my bullpen, so I’m not extremely concerned about those right now.”
»»» Prospects Mel Rojas Jr., Jim Negrych and Miles Durham got a decent amount of playing time today against the O’s. Durham, a 22nd-round pick in 2006, smacked a two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Durham, 27, went deep 10 times last year for Double-A Altoona. He’s hit 43 homers in five seasons in the minors. In the ninth inning today, with Andy Marte on base, Durham whacked a pitch from Josh Rupe over the left field wall.
“I got it decent and it carried out,” Durham said.
However, Orioles manager Buck Showalter thinks the stiff breeze blowing out to left might’ve helped.
“That last ball that (Rupe) gave up, I think the shortstop could have caught it under normal conditions,” Showalter said. “To hold them to four runs under these conditions, that’s pretty impressive.”
»»» Josh Rodriguez made a nice diving stop of Craig Tatum’s hard grounder in the sixth inning. Rodriguez was shaded toward the hole, and had to burst to his left to snag the ball deep behind second base. Tatum reached on an infield single, but the play was a positive indicator of Rodriguez’s range, reflexes and instincts.