Millwood passes primer

milly.jpg

With all the excitement of
the Julio Lugo trade
this morning, I didn’t get to watch Kevin Millwood throw in
his final spring training tune-up, like I had originally planned.

Millwood tossed a short, four-inning outing in the Orioles Triple-A game on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium in
what was his final stint before Tuesday’s Opening Day contest against the
Tampa Bay Rays. At this stage of the game, it’s only important that Millwood
felt OK and walked off the mound healthy. Which he did.

 “It’s
just a final tuneup to try and mix in all of your pitches, and to see if there
is anything you need to work on between now and the first game,” Millwood said.
“I was fine with it. It’s hard to get any excitement or any adrenaline going
this time of spring. Everybody is ready to get out of here, but all in all, I’m
pretty happy with it.”

 “I
don’t think there will be a pitch count [for Tuesday's game]. I’ll be ready to
go as long as they want me to go.”

Millwood is a career 2-2 with a 6.16 ERA in five games
against the Rays; a number that goes up to 6.63 in the three starts Millwood
has started inside Tropicana Field. 

Historically the season’s initial months have been kind to
the veteran right-hander.  Millwood has a career 3.94 ERA in 64 games in
March and April, and last year he went at least seven innings in all five of
his April starts and in his first two starts in May.

Millwood will be opposed by Rays’ right-hander James Shields,
who will be making his team record third-consecutive Opening Day start. The
28-year-old Shields is the elder statesmen of a young and talented Rays staff
and, like Millwood, Shields has build a reputation as pitcher who consistently
works deep into games.

Shields has posted three consecutive seasons with 215 total
innings pitched, and excels inside the Rays home dome. He owns a 25-14 mark
with a 3.40 ERA at Tropicana Field, and is 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 15 career
starts against the Orioles.

*Chris Tillman tossed six innings in the Double-A game and got up to 101
pitches (with close friend Brian Matusz looking on.) It was his first outing in a week. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz
told me yesterday that one of the goals for Tillman at Triple-A will be
to pitch more. So look for him to get stretched out pretty good in Norfolk.

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