FORT MYERS, Fla. — After struggling mightily with his control in an ugly one-inning start Thursday, Orioles right-hander Jair Jurrjens acknowledged that lingering flaws in his mechanics are rooted from nagging problems with his right knee.
Jurrjens, who threw two innings in his spring debut Sunday, lasted just one in the Orioles’ 7-1 Grapefruit League loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.
He battled with his control throughout, allowing three earned runs on two hits and three walks. Of his 34 pitches, only 13 were strikes. Of the eight hitters he faced, he threw just two first-pitch strikes.
“We’re still trying to familiarize ourselves with him,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got a lot of sink there. He’ll get better. We’ll see if he can get better the next time out. . . .
“He’s missing down,” Showalter added. “Everything’s down. I’d feel a lot different if he was missing up, away, in, out. It’s just all down.”
Jurrjens — signed to a minor league deal after questions about his knee squashed an earlier proposed major league contract — said he his mechanics are “out of whack,” from his release point to flying open in his delivery.
“[It’s] a mechanics issue,” said Jurrjens, who has been pitching with a brace on his right knee. “I think having been in bad habits for a couple of years.”
Jurrjens, a National League all-star in 2011 before getting shut down in August of that season with knee issues, struggled from the beginning against the Twins. After Darin Mastroianni led off the bottom of the first inning with a double down the left field line, Jurrjens issues back-to-back one-out walks to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to load the bases.
Justin Morneau then hit a 2-0 pitch down the right field line, plating three runs. Another run scored on a fielding error by second baseman Yamaico Navarro, who bobbled a relay throw from right fielder Conor Jackson.
Jurrjens then issued a four-pitch walk to catcher Ryan Doumit before getting a pop out from Chris Parmelee and a ground out from Trevor Plouffe.
Pitching prospect Kevin Gausman struggled early in his second spring outing, but he settled in during his second inning of work, striking out two on a pair of 96 mph fastballs.
Gausman, whose fastball ranged steadily from 93-96 mph and topped at 97, allowed three hits in his first inning of work in the fourth.
Showalter said he wanted Gausman to face more starters in his second appearance after pitching against reserves in his first spring appearance Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Gausman, the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2012 (No. 4 overall), has four strikeouts in four spring innings. . . .
Cuban defector outfielder Henry Urrutia, displaced in Haiti since the Orioles signed him to a $778,500 bonus last summer, is expected to report to the club’s minor league facility at Twin Lakes Park this weekend.
“There’s a lot of unknown about what kind of shape he’s in,” Showalter said, “in more ways than one, parasites, other stuff you need to rule out.”
Showalter said Urrutia hasn’t received his bonus and won’t until he passes the club’s physical.
“He hasn’t been paid yet,” Showalter said. “He doesn’t get paid a penny until everything passes. It’s cash and carry here.”
The Orioles hoped to send Urrutia to Double-A Bowie last season, but he was held up by problems obtaining a work visa. . . .
With two hits Thursday, third baseman Manny Machado is 4 for 7 this spring. Add three walks, and he has reached base in seven of his 10 plate appearances.
— The Baltimore Sun