Pre-game notes: Ubaldo Jimenez encouraged by strong first outing; Hardy on schedule

Ubaldo Jimenez was pleased with his very efficient performance in the first inning of Thursday’s intrasquad game. He pitched to four batters and got all of them out, staying on the mound beyond the third out of the inning because he had not reached his...

Pre-game notes: Ubaldo Jimenez encouraged by strong first outing; Hardy on schedule

Ubaldo Jimenez was pleased with his very efficient performance in the first inning of Thursday’s intrasquad game. He pitched to four batters and got all of them out, staying on the mound beyond the third out of the inning because he had not reached his first-appearance pitch limit.

“I felt pretty good,’’ he said. “I had good command of the fastball. Especially being the first game I threw, everything was good.”

Jimenez did not have a happy ending to the 2016 season because of the frustrating Wild Card finish, but he did pitch very well over his final seven starts (2.45 ERA in 47 2/3 innings) and the Orioles won five of his last six starts.  It was a pretty significant contribution considering the fourth-place Yankees were only one game behind the Orioles heading into the final three weeks of the season.

He said his focus over the winter was to carry forward the  late-season mechanical adjustments that allowed him to do that.

“That’s what I kept working on during the offseason and it paid off,’’ he said. “That’s what I did the last two months of the season.”

Hardy update

The Orioles will open their Grapefruit League exhibition season today against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, but you're not going to see any of the club's stars until Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bradenton.

Managers are under instructions from MLB to bring at least three starting...

The Orioles will open their Grapefruit League exhibition season today against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, but you're not going to see any of the club's stars until Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Bradenton.

Managers are under instructions from MLB to bring at least three starting...

Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who received an anti-inflammatory injection in his lower back on Thursday, said that he still is on schedule to get back in action in early March.

“I’m feeling much better,’’ he said. “I think it [the injection] was more just to get over the hump, so I think that’s what it did.”

Hardy continues to work on his core strength while waiting to return to baseball activities. The club has projected that he might be available to play in an exhibition game by March 10.

Santander back to switch-hitting

Switch-hitting Rule 5 draftee Anthony Santander originally was not expected to hit left-handed while he continued to rehab after surgery on his right shoulder, but he said Friday morning that he has been cleared to hit from both sides of the plate. So, he was in the lineup on Friday against right-hander Michael Fulmer.

“At the beginning I was feeling hurt, so they asked me [to hit only right-handed],” he said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon, “but afterward I’m feeling so much better now that I told them that I can do it left-handed so I can get my timing down. So, that’s why I’m hitting left-handed now.”

Santander said that the surgery was to remove a bone spur and there was labrum damage.

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