Guthrie gets plenty support in spring training victory

SARASOTA, Fla. — It was 7:24 a.m. Tuesday when Jeremy Guthrie got out of his car and made the short walk to the Orioles' spring training clubhouse beyond the right field fence at Ed Smith Stadium. At 1:26 p.m. he walked off the mound at the spring training home of the Baltimore team.

In between Guthrie checked on some mail by his locker around 8:30 a.m. and grabbed a bite to eat around 11 a.m. Guthrie then retired all six batters he faced in his first spring start, against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays in a 12-6 victory before a sellout crowd of 7,497.

"I felt good. Everything felt just as I ended up last season," said Guthrie, the Roseburg native and 1997 Ashland High graduate. "I was able to work ahead (of the hitters). My command was not tremendous ... but we worked on strikes for the most part. I would have gone out as much as they let me. Two innings, that is what they wanted out of starters at this point."

The Orioles, with a new-look lineup, made the day even easier for Guthrie and the pitchers who followed by hitting five homers in the team's first 11 at bats over the course of about 30 minutes. Nick Markakis, the No. 2 hitter, hit homers his first two trips to the plate.

"The team has a lot of confidence. It starts with Buck," Guthrie said of Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "He exudes it."

Guthrie watched part of the game behind the right field fence, wearing shorts and a shirt, after he was out of the game. In the first inning Guthrie retired the first three batters, as Johnny Damon lined to first base, Sean Rodriguez grounded out to short and Evan Longoria grounded out to second.

The former BYU and Stanford pitcher was staked to an early lead as Brian Roberts led off with a single and Markakis followed with a two-run homer to right. After Luke Scott grounded out to first, Vladimir Guerrero hit a long homer to left-center to make it 3-0. After Mark Reynolds flew out to center, former Seattle outfielder Adam Jones hit a homer to left to give Guthrie a 4-0 lead on a cloudy day in which the wind blew out to left.

"Vlad is a great addition," Guthrie said. "He has brought a lot of excitement to the guys in the clubhouse, on top of being a great hitter."

In the second Guthrie faced slugger Manny Ramirez, who struck out to begin the inning. Guthrie then faced B.J. Upton, who popped out, and Felipe Lopez, who grounded out to end the inning. In the last of the second Orioles first baseman Jake Fox, filling in for injured Derrek Lee, hit a one-out solo homer, again to left. After Roberts grounded out, Markakis hit his second homer, a solo shot to right to make it 6-0 against Tampa starter Andy Sonnanstine, who gave up the five early homers.

"The guys are taking good at bats," Guthrie said of his offense. "It is a great start for them. They have a lot weapons out there to work with."

Guthrie was replaced in the top of the third by Rick Vandenhurk, a native of The Netherlands who hosted Guthrie at the end of last season for a baseball clinic

in his native European country.

Guthrie, who has been with the Orioles since 2007, was 11-14 with an ERA of 3.83 last season as a regular starter for the club as he made 32 starts. In 2091/3 innings he allowed 193 hits (25 homers) and 50 walks with 119 strikeouts. In his big league career he is 38-45, 4.15 in 143 games, with 122 starts.

In 14 starts after the All-Star break last year he was 8-4 with an ERA of 2.76. He went at least six innings in all but four starts and was 7-3 with an ERA of 3.14 under manager Showalter, who took over on August 3.

It was the second game of the spring for the Orioles, who opened up with a win on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates in nearby Bradenton. Among those on hand Tuesday was Peter Angelos, the owner of the Orioles.

This is the second spring for the Orioles in Sarasota since moving from Ft. Lauderdale. Ed Smith Stadium went through many renovations in the past eight months, including the addition of a second level, an air-conditioned cafe and team store and a pavilion in left field.

"The crowd is great," Guthrie said. "It is just more than just a stadium, and a tribute to the community. I expect great crowds all spring and going forward. Hopefully we can make it a fun place to come, and win some games. Hopefully it translates to good baseball and we can compete in our division."

Notes: The Orioles are one of two teams, along with the Yankees, to have three players on their spring roster who have hit 40 homers in a season: Lee (2005), Reynolds (2009) and Guerrero (1999 and 2000) ... A light rain fell about two hours before the game but the exhibition began on time ... Since last season the Orioles have added Kevin Gregg, a graduate of Corvallis High, to their bullpen. The team traded for shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Reynolds and signed free agents Lee (first base) and designated hitter Guerrero.

David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland. He can be reached at

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