FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the third time in three spring games, an Orioles starter came up short of two innings, with Jair Jurrjens struggling with command and recording just three outs in Thursday's game against the Minnesota Twins.
"My timing today was way off," said Jurrjens, who said it was a combination of things, including flying open in his delivery, that led to three walks. "Yes, [it's] a mechanics issue. I think I have been having bad habits for a couple of years. I just got to figure out how to get the good habits back, the good timing. Get that feel back."
Jurrjens, who also gave up a pair of hits, was charged with three earned runs and threw 34 pitches (13 strikes) in an outing that was supposed to last two innings. Asked if his poor mechanics were related to the right knee injury that has hampered his career, Jurrjens said yes.
"By trying to find a way to pitch without feeling pain you tweak some stuff with your mechanics," he said. "You compensate and mess up more stuff."
Jurrjen, who was signed to a Minor League contract after concerns over his right knee held up a potential big league deal, said he will take Thursday's outing and use it as a reference point to make improvements in his next bullpen session. He has made two spring starts so far, allowing four earned runs on five hits and four walks over two innings, and is vying for a rotation spot in what figures to be a tough competition in Orioles camp.
"I'll just lean on whatever he says," manager Buck Showalter said of Jurrjens. "I think this time of year, we are not even to March yet, we are not going to close the door good or bad on anybody at this point. It's a process with him. He'll be fine."
Jurrjens, who wasn't helped by an error by Yamaico Navarro, said Thursday's outing shouldn't be considered a step back.
"Not really, because the ball was doing what [I wanted it to be] doing," Jurrjens said. "My release point was a little bit off, you know. It's a long Spring Training, lucky for me. I'm going to keep working and try to find that release point and the ball [will] do what it's supposed to do."
Jurrjens' fastball hit 92 several times on the Hammond Stadium radar gun, although it was mostly 89-90 during his inning.
"We were trying to find a rhythm and for some reason I was going too fast," he said. "I was just trying to slow it down and I slowed it down a little bit too late."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less