Hunter on Hunter

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles hit four home runs today and still lost to the Rays, 8-5, at Ed Smith Stadium.

J.J. Hardy homered twice. Nick Johnson and Nick Markakis also connected. The last three homers came against Rays reliever Matt Torra.

I'll pass along manager Buck Showalter's quotes a little later, including how he confirmed that Wei-Yin Chen is in the rotation. He also mentioned that Alfredo Simon didn't pitch in a minor league game today. It was the club's decision and it wasn't health related, so perhaps he's about to change organizations.

Also, we're told that Chris Tillman threw very well in the minor league simulated game today, but we don't have any stats.

Tommy Hunter said he threw a lot of changeups today at Twin Lakes Park, "and that's something that I've come in the last six spring trainings trying to figure something out."

"I think I threw 11 in a row," he said. "I got a good feel for the ball coming out of my hand today. I had a good feel for many offspeed pitches today. They come out swinging."

Hunter's lower-back issues are apparently behind him, so to speak.

"I'm ready to go," he said. "It's going through spring training, everybody's going to get tight here and there. I felt good, felt confident with what I was able to do this spring. And we'll go from there."

Hunter remains in the hunt for the opening day start.

"I have no idea," he said. "I wish you guys would tell me. I don't know. I haven't heard anything yet. Everybody is up in the air about it. I'm sure we'll find out hopefully in the next day or so.

"There's, I think, four guys that have enough adequate rest to pitch on that day, but that's not our decision. One thing I try to do is take care of the things I can control, and that's about as out of my control as I can get. Not worried about it, not thinking about it. Whoever gets it, hopefully the Orioles come out with a W.

"I'm anxious with these games to be done. It's time for baseball season to start. Im ready for it and I think everybody else is too."

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