Notes: Millar relieved to play again
First baseman back in action Saturday after nine-day absence
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Kevin Millar's nine-day exile from the starting lineup ended Saturday, when the first baseman made the split-squad trip to Jupiter, Fla., to play against the Marlins. Millar had missed time with a sore left foot and a strained right forearm, and shortly before the bus left, he expressed relief to be playing again.
"I'm ready to go. It's been a weird scene, the four or five days [spent] healing a strain," he said. "Time heals, and it feels good. I haven't had any pain the last couple days swinging. It was something I could've played through, but they wanted to heal it so it doesn't linger. Hopefully, it's done and I'm good to go."
Millar last played March 7, and he left that game early after fouling a ball off the instep of his foot. He missed a few days with that ailment and a few more days while waiting for the irritation to leave his forearm. Millar said he had played with the injury for a few days before reporting it, but shut it down when the trainers suggested it.
"I just mentioned it to the training staff and would've played through it if it was during the season," he said. "I probably wouldn't have mentioned it [then]. There's a whole lot of stuff you don't mention sometimes when you play through injuries, and that's fine. But knowing that it was March 10 and early, I just wanted to calm it down."
The veteran is hitting .083 (1-for-12) so far this spring, but he said he's not concerned about the early numbers. Millar also said that he only needs 35 or 40 at-bats to get ready for the season. In fact, Millar thinks that the injury may have been a blessing in disguise in that he's fresher than he would've been if he had played every day.
"I'll probably have a huge first half this year," said Millar, who went 0-for-3 on Saturday. "I've gone to the beach and I've ran more than I ever have. When you're shut down, they run you more because you're not playing, so it's been conditioning like crazy. I'm actually in shape; I've got fresh hands."
Late shift: Hayden Penn got bumped from his Saturday start for an ignominious reason -- he forgot his equipment bag and arrived late to the ballpark in Jupiter. Contingency plan Jeremy Guthrie got the start against the Marlins instead. Penn's equipment eventually showed up and he wound up pitching in relief. The rookie threw three scoreless innings, striking out one batter and allowing two hits.
Manager Sam Perlozzo was pleased to hear how Penn threw, but upset over the incident. Perlozzo said that he understands that things happen and people can be late, but he was miffed that he didn't hear from the wayward pitcher.
"All you have to do is make a phone call and you're clean," he said. "He could've saved himself if he'd just given me a call."
Despite that emotion, Perlozzo said the discipline had already taken place. Penn lost his chance to start for perhaps the only time this spring. Beyond that, it's water under the bridge.
"It started there and ended there," Perlozzo said. "We move on. Everyone makes a mistake. We'll just pick it up and go."
Fastballs: Baltimore reliever Chad Bradford held court Saturday about his last pitching performance, which included seven earned runs in less than an inning on Friday. Bradford said he was getting the ball up, which led to a double and a two-run home run. At one point, the right-hander hit three hit batters in a four-man span.
"I felt like I was making progress, getting there," he said of his spring. "But then you have one like yesterday to let you know it's not easy out there. It's never easy. ... [But] I'll get back out there and get some outs."
Bradford has only allowed two home runs in the last two years, so the long ball was a bit of a surprise. The veteran said he'd been through games like that before and didn't expect it to carry over to his next appearance.
"Maybe not quite that bad, but I've had stuff like that happen in spring," he said. "I had one outing last year with New York that was pretty rough like that."
The day after: Perlozzo said that he expected the Orioles to rebound from Friday's 16-2 loss to Minnesota. He allowed his players to sleep in an extra hour Saturday, and then ran them through paces on the back field. And then when the game started, he watched his first eight players reach base safely.
"I wasn't annoyed at the team so much," he said. "I think what happens is that even during the season -- when you don't pitch well -- things look worse than they are. You go through some dead spots in the spring, and then I think you've just got to start picking it up a little. If you pitch a good game today, things will look a lot better than they did yesterday."
The Orioles didn't even step on the main field, ceding it to the Mets for pregame drills. Baltimore did its infield work and batting practice on the back field, where only a few reporters dared to take notes. Perlozzo said that with half his team on a bus to Jupiter, it just didn't make sense to take up the whole main field.
"We had less amount of guys. We thought we'd give them a little bit of a breather in the morning," he said. "We did the same exact amount of work. We just went at it a little later. And now we don't have as much time to wait before the game."
Road work: The Orioles had some travel-related difficulties on the way to their split-squad game in Jupiter on Saturday. One of the team buses broke down on I-95 on the way to the ballpark.
Quotable: "I might be your pick to click in fantasy baseball. You can buy me for one dollar, I think. If you're going to spend some money in fantasy baseball, go ahead and pick Kevin Millar." -- Millar, on how his injuries will impact his season
Coming up: The Orioles will play host to the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET in a game that pits Daniel Cabrera against Boston's Kason Gabbard. Cabrera has worked nine innings this spring, striking out nine batters with only three walks.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.