SARASOTA, Fla.-- Jason Hammel tossed two scoreless innings Friday in his first spring start against the Pirates, striking out two, and said afterwards it was nice pitching with two good knees.
"I made a goal for me in the offseason to be able to come out and pitch without a brace," said Hammel, who had a right knee injury -- and surgery -- that hampered him nearly all of last season. "So, check that one off the list.
"I can feel my lower half, it's not more of just trying to build momentum to get towards the plate because I didn't have the backside push. I felt outstanding."
Hammel, who is a strong candidate to be the team's Opening Day starter, ended up with 39 pitches, 27 strikes, and he got ahead 0-2 on five of the seven batters he faced.
"That was my goal," Hammel said of having good command early. "I told [catcher Matt Wieters] lots of fastballs and then with the lefties we were going to work changeup and curveballs, things like that. The only scuffle I can say was probably the four-seamer. I wasn't quite on top like I should be. But good sinker and everything else was pretty much right where it should be."
Hammel was also encouraged with the offense, namely watching second baseman Brian Roberts lead off the game with a solo homer, his first home run of any kind since April 13, 2011.
"It's good to see him back," Hammel said of Roberts, who hasn't played a full season since 2009.
"It's very frustrating for a guy who wants to be out there and can't be out there. I've been through that. He was [sidelined] for a much longer time, I don't know how he got through that, but good to see him out there for sure."
Teagarden sitting out with stiff lower back
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden came in Friday with some lower back stiffness and manager Buck Showalter said the team will monitor the situation the next few days as Teagarden recovers.
"Dealing with what I had to go through last year, if I have to take a day or two to let it calm down, that's fine," said Teagarden, who didn't play until July 14 because of a lower back injury. "Spring Training -- it's a lot on the body because we get hot. We do an activity, and then we sit down, then we have to do something in the next hour, so it's a lot to ask on the body throughout the day. Little things like this can come up every now and again, so I'm just trying to make sure it stays where it's at, and hopefully, a day or two."
Teagarden was slowed last spring with a lower back issue that plagued him for months and he got several epidural injections and worked hard to rehab back and return to the Orioles. Slated to be catcher Matt Wieters' backup again this season, Teagarden said what he woke up with on Friday morning wasn't comparable to his previous injury.
"Last year was like radiating pain down my spine," he said. "I don't feel anything like that.
"Tomorrow I'll talk to [catching coach John Russell] and some of these people and let them know how I feel. I expect to feel significantly better tomorrow. We'll see if I play or not."
Teagarden hit .158 /.226 /.316 in 22 games and had several clutch hits for the Orioles last season, including a walk-off home run in his first game.
"We've got plenty of time, so we are not going to rush it," Showalter said. "I think we'd be the same amount of cautious with anybody with this amount of time. But, you can make a case for us being a little overcautious with [catcher Luis] Martinez."
Martinez has been sidelined with a strained left oblique, although he is inching closer to being cleared to play.
Reimold exits game early with shoulder soreness
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nolan Reimold hit his first home run of the spring on Friday afternoon, but exited the game after just two innings with right shoulder soreness.
Reimold, who had last season cut short with neck surgery, has been a full-go in Orioles camp, although the strength in his left arm is still coming back. He remained on the bench after being replaced by Jason Pridie in the top of the third inning until the rest of the team's starters exited.
"Today was the first day he kind of told us it was a little sore and he didn't feel comfortable throwing," manager Buck Showalter said of Reimold. "He didn't want to continue throwing, especially in the cold weather. He told us that before he hit the home run, so it didn't bother him in the swing."
Starting in left field for the third game this spring, Reimold hit a two-run shot off Pirates right-hander James McDonald, which cleared the picnic area in left field, for his first hit in the second inning.
"It's real encouraging to him," Showalter said of Reimold's homer. "Nolan has been having some good [batting practice sessions] and everything, so it doesn't come as a surprise. You could tell he was pretty [excited], probably made coming out of the game feeling a little bit better. They were kidding him about being a full-time DH anyway, don't worry about it. Somebody did, anyway. I shouldn't say they."
Given that it's not the side related to Reimold's neck surgery, Showalter said he didn't think Friday's soreness was a major issue and he let him get a second-inning at-bat after head athletic trainer Richie Bancells informed him of what was going on.
"[He said] Nolan's shoulder is barking some, it only bothers him when he throws," Showalter said. "Said he'd rather not take a chance on it to make a couple throws. But we will see what tomorrow brings."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.