Bedard hit hard, Rays drop opener

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) Chris Tillman pitched two scoreless inning in an impressive spring training debut, helping the Baltimore Orioles open their exhibition schedule with a 4-2 victory over Erik Bedard and the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Bedardspent the first five years of his career with the Orioles and iscompeting to win the fifth starter's spot in his first season with theRays. He yielded a three first-inning runs, although that doesn'tnecessarily mean he took a step back in his bid to rebound from a pairof disappointing seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.

Theleft-hander, who turns 35 on Wednesday, was 11-26 with a 4.76 ERA overthe last two seasons, including 4-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 26 starts andsix relief appearances for the Astros last year.

As a veteran of10 seasons, Bedard understands spring training numbers don't alwaysreflect how a pitcher is performing. He understands the competition forthe job.

''It puts a little more pressure,'' Bedard said. ''In thepast I've had very bad springs, and I've have decent ones. You just goout there and throw strikes and do the best you can. Sometimes theresults in spring don't mean you're not doing good.''

Tillman, a first-time All-Star a year ago, allowed one hit, walked none and struck out three. Steve Clevenger had a RBI single and Alex Gonzalez finished Baltimore's big inning against Bedard with a two-run single.

''Tillywas sharp. Sometimes last year he was kind of searching for armstrength early, even in the season, but he was pretty sharp today,''Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''He has a different presence abouthim. He's not that much more heavier, but you see some definition, theway he carries himself and everything.''

Jerry Sands and Justin Christian drove in runs for the Rays.


Orioles:Tillman went 11-3 with a 3.95 ERA before the All-Star break last summerand finished 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts. He threw 25 pitches inhis spring training debut, primarily working on fastball command. Hefanned David DeJesus, James Loney and reigning AL rookie of the year Wil Myers, but stressed it's just a start.

''Ithink this early in spring it doesn't really matter who you face. It'sjust going out there and getting the feel again,'' Tillman said. ''Weface our own hitters the first two weeks, and it isn't the same feel. Soit was good to get the juices flowing again.''

Rays: Bedard alsothrew 25 pitches, but allowed three runs, three hits, walked two, struckout one and also had a wild pitch in one inning. Manager Joe Maddonstressed it's too early to read anything into the outing. ''It's aprocess-oriented situation. I really liked a lot of what our pitchersdid today. ... Bedard gave up a couple of runs, but I thought he madesome good pitches,'' Maddon said.


Rays 2B Ben Zobristremains sidelined with a sore back. Madden said he's feeling better andis expected to take part in team drills and return to the lineup earlynext week. INF Alexi Casilla (hamstring), 1B Chris Marrero (oblique) and OF Quintin Berry (back) did not make the trip for the Orioles.


TheAmerican flag, as well as the game ball, were delivered to CharlotteSports Park by the U.S. Special Operations Command parachute team, whichended a free-fall demonstration by landing on the field. Maddon wasimpressed, but said he had no interest in taking up skydiving.

''I don't even like jumping off diving boards,'' the Rays manager said.


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