SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Tommy Hunter had to wait until only two weeks remained in spring training to make his first start.
It didn't go quite as well as he hoped.
After being sidelined by a lower back injury, Hunter allowed two runs and five hits in five innings in the Baltimore Orioles' 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Last week, Hunter worked four innings in a minor league game, and Wednesday he labored through the five innings, throwing 74 pitches. Hunter walked two, struck out two and allowed a long home run to left by Toronto's J.P. Arencibia in the third inning. It was Arencibia's fourth of the spring.
``I definitely have some work to do, and thank God, there's two weeks of spring training left,' Hunter said. ``I still can get outs. I'm not feeling the best that I can feel. Then again, it's spring training. It's my first outing, and I can only improve from there.'
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said that Hunter, who will be part of the starting rotation, can certainly improve over this performance.
``He's capable of better - command-wise,' Showalter said. ``We've seen Tommy have good command. It was good to see him survive without it, but I'd rather see him have it. He will. He will.'
Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek allowed two runs and three hits in 3 1-3 innings. In his second start of the spring, Drabek, who faces long odds to make the team, walked two and struck out three. He's allowed five runs and eight hits in 9 1-3 innings.
``I might have been wild a few times. Just rushing a little bit, but I got the groundballs that I wanted,' Drabek said.
``I feel like he's definitely on the right path,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``He threw a number of curveballs for strikes today. He kept himself under control in the first inning that could have been a little shaky for him. It's another step in the right direction for him today.'
In 2011, Drabek made the Blue Jays and stayed with them until mid-June. He was demoted after he allowed eight runs in four innings against Boston on June 12.
He's hoping to somehow go north with Toronto.
``It's not up to me. I feel good, though. It's at a good point now, so we'll see,' Drabek said. ``It's just fighting for a job, just like last year.'
Adam Jones hit his second home run and two RBIs for the Orioles.
Toronto, which improved its record to 15-4-1, scored four runs - three unearned - off Pedro Strop in the ninth inning for the win.
NOTES: LHP Zach Britton will be able to avoid surgery on his sore left shoulder. Britton consulted with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Wednesday morning. He received two injections. ``It could take up to six weeks to heal,' Britton said. ... Dontrelle Willis reported to the Orioles on Wednesday morning. Dan Duquette, the team's executive vice president of baseball operations said he would like the veteran LHP to reinvent himself as a lefty specialist, and would probably have to begin the season in the minors. ... Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts said he's growing more optimistic he'll play sometime this season. ``It's just a matter of when,' Roberts said. ... Orioles OF Endy Chavez was 2 for 2, and is now batting .500 (14 for 28). ... Blue Jays INF Omar Vizquel, who is 44, was 2 for 3, and is batting .435 this spring. ... Baltimore Orioles reassigned RHPs Willie Eyre, Jon Link, Miguel Socolovich and Oscar Villarreal to minor league camp.
The Associated Press News Service
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