Orioles 6, Rays 3
Jeff Niemann thinks people get the wrong idea about the kind of
pitcher he is. Because he is a very large man who drew attention in
college for throwing mid-90s out of the Rice bullpen, he is often
perceived as a power arm forced down a few miles per hour after
However, Niemann said that was never him. He believes that even
in his college days, he was his most effective sitting in the low
90s and high 80s on the radar gun.
With four years of major league service time on his baseball
card, Niemann knows when he’s at his best and when he isn’t. That’s
why he wasn’t overly concerned when he gave up five runs and 10
hits in six innings in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 6-3 loss to the
Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
For Niemann, it’s about the process and not the immediate
”Honestly, that’s the best I’ve felt all spring, the best I’ve
thrown the ball,” said Niemann, competing with Roberto Hernandez
to claim the Rays’ fifth starter spot. ”I just made a couple of
bad pitches, and the homer is what really upset me.”
The homer he was referring to was a two-run shot by Orioles
prospect Jonathan Schoop, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs in his
first start since returning from playing for the Netherlands at the
World Baseball Classic. One of the best middle infield prospects in
baseball, Schoop doesn’t figure to earn a spot with Baltimore on
opening day, but he is the kind of player that the Orioles plan to
Niemann said his mistake to Schoop was a fastball that didn’t
get inside enough and got up in the zone too much.
”I felt like I finally had some life behind the ball as it was
coming out and the confidence just kind of kept growing as the game
went on,” said the Rays’ veteran.
Niemann’s four-seam fastball has become a cutter, and his
two-seamer is a regular piece of his game-plan.
”Nothing I throw is straight anymore,” he added. ”It’s just
how we evolve in this league. You have to constantly find a new way
to get guys out. As much info as we have on them, they have the
same info on us.”
Neimann’s counterpart, Steve Johnson, is also looking for a role
in the Orioles’ rotation. He allowed three runs on two hits and
three walks, most of which came in the three-run third inning, that
culminated in a bases clearing double from Evan Longoria.
”Any time you throw that many pitches in an inning, you start
to kind of tire,” Johnson said. ”It’s just really frustrating. I
was cruising, I felt good and it just didn’t work out that
NOTES: Orioles RF Nick Markakis hit off a batting tee for the
first time since he was scratched from a game on March 3. Markakis,
who has a small disk herniation in his back, hopes to play next
week. … Baltimore lost RHP Todd Redmond on waivers to Toronto.
… LHP Wei-Yin Chen will pitch for the Orioles on Saturday against
Philadelphia RHP Aaron Cook. Members of the Rays organization,
including Joe Maddon, David Price and Ben Zobrist were treated to
an advanced showing of ”42” at a local mall Thursday night. Minor
leagues coaches, players and scouts were also invited to attend the
motion picture based on the life of Jackie Robinson. . Steve Pearce
hit his fifth homer of the spring for Baltimore.