FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Orioles shortstop Manny Machado's first Grapefruit League start pitted him against one of the game's premier right-handers, Boston's Josh Beckett, and Machado wasn't at the plate intending to draw a walk in his first at-bat.
"I just tried to take advantage. He kind of fooled me on the first pitch and threw me a changeup," said Machado, who finished 0-for-1 with a pair of walks in Baltimore's 7-4 split-squad loss to the Red Sox. "I was expecting fastball. After that, I was just going up there seeing the ball and hitting it."
"I'm getting old," Beckett said when asked about Machado. "I guess he wasn't a Josh Beckett fan, because he sure was taking some hard swings."
Machado grounded to short in the third inning, his only at-bat against Beckett.
"He's a [heckuva] pitcher," Machado said. "Got good stuff. Hopefully I'll be seeing him soon. It's great to see these guys pitch. I've seen him since I was a little kid, 14, 15 years old, and now to be facing him at a young age."
Chen uses solid start as learning experience
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wei-Yin Chen became the first Orioles pitcher to throw five innings this spring, but he also learned an important lesson in the fifth inning of Saturday afternoon's 3-3 split-squad tie against the Red Sox, when Boston's Nate Spears crushed a high pitch over the right-field fence.
"Today I learned something new, that you cannot make a mistake here," Chen said through translator Tim Lin. "Once you make one, they will hit you very far away."
Overall, Chen said he pitched well, and he had good reason to feel that way. Before Spears bashed that ball and let the wind do the rest for a three-run homer, Chen pitched four scoreless innings. In all, the lefty gave up six hits and a walk while striking out three. Spears' shot was the only real blemish on his record.
Through three Spring Training appearances, Chen has given up four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out eight over 10 innings.
"That was one of our better outings this spring," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We gave up a wind-aided fly ball, and other than that, he has five shutout innings. He threw real well. He was sharp with his command.
"I like where he is right now. He's getting a little better every time out. He's starting to get more comfortable."
Chen also displayed an unexpected prowess in picking off runners Saturday, nabbing Pedro Ciriaco and Adrian Gonzalez to end the second and third innings, respectively, and appearing to have caught Ryan Lavarnway at second base in the fifth inning, though the Red Sox catcher was called safe.
"I'm surprised myself, too. In Japan, I didn't pick off a lot," Chen said. "Here, that's a new experience for me. Those are things I'm still learning."
Added Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar, who was the acting manager for Boston on Saturday in Sarasota: "Pedro went on first move. He hadn't seen his move before, so he just was going on first move. That was totally him. Then Gonzalez, I think, was just trying to be sneaky. In his words, he got a rally started by making the last out."
Galarraga tires late after strong beginning
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Baltimore right-hander Armando Galarraga wasn't worried about going four innings without any strikeouts on Saturday in a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox. He's a groundball pitcher, that's his game.
What Galarraga would have preferred is finishing his final two innings as well as he pitched in his first two.
Trying to make a case for a spot on the big league team, Galarraga gave up four runs on six hits, one walk and 63 pitches, 36 for strikes. One run came home in the third, three more in the fourth.
"The fourth inning there, I got a little tired," Galarraga said. "[I had thrown] like 70 pitches, [more than I've thrown] in the past three or four months. It's not an excuse."
Location was the issue in the final two innings. Galarraga missed most of last season because of injury.
"Early, he was hitting his spots, keeping the ball down and getting some ground balls," said John Russell, the O's bench coach who served as the acting manager on a split-squad day. "The last inning he started to get some balls up, especially early in the count. ... we're very encouraged by the first couple innings."
Hunter feels like he is on right track
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Tommy Hunter has yet to throw a pitch in a Major League Spring Training game this year, but he said he is already feeling more comfortable at this point in the spring than he has in years.
Hunter is only doing normal maintenance exercises for his lower back as he continues to get stretched out in time for Opening Day, and he isn't at all concerned about whether he'll be ready in time to secure a spot in the starting rotation.
"I'm ready to go. I'm good to go right now," Hunter said. "You could throw me out there for five innings, and I'll be all right."
Hunter threw 60 pitches in four innings in a Minor League game Friday and reported feeling good. He said he threw all four of his pitches for strikes, benefited from how early his opponents were swinging, and called it a "quality outing" overall.
Hunter will make his first Grapefruit League appearance on Wednesday against the Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium, Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed.
"I think I'm right around where you should be on pitch count. The way I feel, the way the ball's coming out of my hand feels great. It can only get better from there," Hunter said. "I feel a lot more comfortable this year than I have in the past three. A lot more. Just with what I have right now, how I feel. I feel a lot better.
"Just more relaxed, I guess. I know I'm getting my work in, and I know what I'm doing. I'm comfortable with that."
Berken takes positive step toward return
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Jason Berken (left hamstring) threw a bullpen session off a full mound for the first time Saturday, and he should be able to pitch in a game by the middle of next week.
Berken said he should throw another side session Monday, and if all goes well, the Orioles will decide when he can see his first Grapefruit League action -- potentially as early as Wednesday.
"Hopefully by the middle of next week would probably be a time frame that would be close, but it all depends on how things go," Berken said. "It's not final by any means, but I'm guessing that's kind of the timing that we're looking at."
Berken hopes he has enough time to work his way back into the bullpen mix, though the Orioles have plenty of other options and can send him to Triple-A Norfolk if necessary.
"I know time is ticking, but I'm doing whatever I can to get back. With the time that I have left, I've got to make the most of it," Berken said. "Hopefully ... I'll get in some games soon and just go out there and pitch well. In terms of timing, obviously it's not ideal, but I'll do whatever I can with the time I have left."
Nick Markakis went 2-for-3 as the designated hitter in Saturday's 3-3 split-squad tie against the Red Sox at home, recording his first hits of the spring. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the game he could tell Markakis, coming back from offseason abdominal surgery, was smiling as he got to first and ran the bases. Markakis will make his first start in right field Tuesday.
Reliever Darren O'Day (groin) threw off a half-mound Saturday, Showalter said.
Regarding who will hit cleanup for the Orioles this season, Showalter said Saturday: "It's kind of more up in the air. We have a lot of people that you've got to look at and think about there. It's not so much that you look at them one time in a game and make a decision. It's kind of a presence thing, too. You'd love to have one guy and stick him there and leave him there, but that may not happen."
Showalter said he looked at his club's Spring Training stats for the first time Saturday morning, mostly checking to see how his players were progressing in terms of plate appearances and innings played or pitched. Among his thoughts based on what he saw: Reserve catcher Ronny Paulino is catching up after arriving to camp three weeks late; there's nothing he can do about getting catcher Taylor Teagarden (back) more playing time; and Markakis might have to play a few Triple-A games in which he leads off every inning just to get more plate appearances under his belt.