Simon pitches five innings in rehab outing

Simon pitches five innings in rehab outing

Simon pitches five innings in rehab outing
BOWIE, Md. -- Alfredo Simon walked out to the mound just before a group of children from a local school sang the National Anthem Thursday morning at Prince George's Stadium, home of the Double-A Bowie Baysox. He quietly checked around the mound, listened to the kids' singing and got ready to pitch.

Simon took his warmup throws and then, at 11:08 a.m ET on a blustery day, threw a strike to Chris Rahl of the Harrisburg Senators on the game's first pitch. Life was back to normal for the Orioles right-hander -- if just for a little while.

"I don't put a lot of things in my mind," Simon said. "I just try to play baseball. I don't think about whatever happened ... [and] just put it behind me."

There's a lot to put behind him, as Simon had a rough time this winter. The right-hander turns 30 on Sunday and is presently on the Orioles' restricted list after being released from a Dominican Republic prison on bail on March 3. Simon was arrested there after a New Year's Day shooting that killed one person and injured another.

He's been granted a visa letting him enter the United States, and is still waiting to hear if he's been charged in connection with the incident.

This was the start of a rehab assignment for Simon, who's been on his own type of Spring Training after coming back to the United States on April 2. The Orioles worked out a deal with Major League Baseball and the players' union that lets Simon go on this rehab assignment, even though he is on the team's restricted list, and pitch with a Minor League team.

In his start on Thursday, Simon pitched five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits. He threw in the low- to mid-90s, struck out five and didn't walk a batter, but also threw two wild pitches and hit one. The right-hander threw 81 pitches -- 56 for strikes.

He struck out Rahl to begin the game, but the center fielder reached first on a wild pitch. Simon then picked off Rahl moments later. But Simon gave up back-to-back two-out hits that drove in a run -- though he eventually struck out the side.

Simon gave up three of the four runs in his final two innings, as Harrisburg seemed to be catching up to him.

"It seems to me he ran out of gas there a little bit, and that's pretty much what you'd expect for someone that's getting the competitive juices really rolling for the first time," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "He's been at it for just about a month. Spring Training is six-seven weeks. He's got a couple more weeks at least of rehabs and trying to stretch him out."

MacPhail said the Orioles are looking at Simon as a starter at this point, and he said they could always move him back to the bullpen. In addition, they're going to leave Simon at Bowie for his next start.

Bowie manager Gary Kendall said Simon is tentatively scheduled to start again on May 11 -- an 11:05 a.m. start.

"He seemed to struggle with his command," Kendall said. "I don't think he's where he needs to be, but he went out there and competed."

Simon met with the media after the game and didn't take any questions about the Dominican issue, but he did read a long statement in Spanish, which Orioles officials handed out in English.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to my sport, to the entire Baltimore Orioles organization, the owner, the general manager, the front office, the coaches, my teammates, sponsors, and the fans, for the recent distraction that my personal circumstances have caused," Simon's statement said.

"In time, I will address the issue publicly, but I cannot comment on the issue today."

Simon said he's lost 30 pounds, but he's still waiting to find out about if he's being charged.

"There was no charge or anything," MacPhail said. "And I don't think you can deny the opportunity for employment if he hasn't been charged."

That's why Simon was able to get out on the mound. He threw more curves than normal, but used everything during his five-inning stint.

For a few hours, at least, all Simon needed to worry about was pitching -- and he clearly liked that.

"I feel great," he said. "All of my pitches, they work good. I just feel really good."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.