Walker Returns, May Be 'Gun Shy'

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 25, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 24 -- Baltimore Orioles reliever Jamie Walker, who was struck on the back of the head by a line drive from Nick Markakis during batting practice Friday, rejoined the team Saturday. Walker spent almost four hours at the hospital on Friday being examined. Doctors found nothing more than a minor concussion.

"They couldn't find a brain, so I'm good," Walker joked.

Walker had a light day Saturday. He was in uniform but did not throw or participate in team drills. He is optimistic he can participate Sunday.

Walker said he saw Markakis's drive coming, but the ball was moving so fast he didn't have time to protect himself.

"The only thing after I got hit was that I couldn't hear for about five minutes," he said. "It was like going to a rock concert."

The biggest concern for Walker is how he'll react once he returns to the mound.

"I'll probably be a little gun shy at first, but that's part of the job," he said.

Despite the incident, Walker said he won't use a pitching screen for protection. Pitchers have the option of using a screen during batting practice.

"I don't use it," he said. "I never use them. I just don't like them. Obviously, I got hit, but that's baseball. It ain't the first time I've gotten hit and it probably won't be the last. I think it's the first time I got hit in the head, but luckily it wasn't in the front. It could do some damage if it got my eye or something. But I'm fine. Heck, it's part of the game."

House Keeps at It

Catcher J.R. House, a non-roster invitee, took ground balls at third base Saturday. He has also practiced at first base and in the outfield. Though House is a long shot to make the major league team, he could push backup catcher candidate Paul Bako if he can play more than one position.

"You want to be able to do anything you can do to help the ball team," House said. "Anywhere you can fit in to get into the lineup and to show some versatility."

House could sneak onto the Orioles' roster because of his bat. In six minor league seasons, he has a .328 batting average and a .391 on-base percentage. Manager Sam Perlozzo said he likes House's work ethic.

Lineups Coming Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo will announce his lineup and pitchers for Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage. The Orioles also will scrimmage on Wednesday. Perlozzo hinted that the lineups will be composed of younger players, most likely players on the fringe of the major league roster.

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