Orioles 4, Nationals 3

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Paul Shuey walked through the clubhouse on crutches and with his right foot in a protective boot. He made no effort to mask the disgusted look on his face.

Shuey's comeback bid with the Orioles was dealt a blow Friday when he strained his Achilles' tendon during Baltimore's 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.

The 36-year-old Shuey retired in April 2005 because of recurring hip problems. After surgery alleviated the pain and provided him with more movement in the joint, the right-hander agreed to a minor-league contract with the Orioles in January.

He pitched one scoreless inning in each of his first two appearances. His third relief stint, however, ended abruptly. Shuey was attempting to cover the plate on a wild pitch in the seventh inning when his right foot collapsed under him.

"It popped," he said. "It's pretty upsetting. Whatever. Life will stink for a while and then I'll get to throw again."

He is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks, a layoff that could hinder any chance he had of making the team out of spring training.

"It's not going to help him, obviously," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "The main thing is it's not severe. If it's a couple of weeks, we'll take that gladly and get him back in shape because he's somebody that can help us down the road."

Shuey hasn't pitched in the majors since 2003. His last appearance in baseball was in April 2005, with Double-A Akron.

"We'll figure it out and make a plan," he said. "It's not good timing for me."

Nationals prospect Matt Chico also left Friday's game earlier than planned, but it was because he couldn't come up with an efficient encore to his impressive spring training debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After throwing three shutout innings Sunday, Chico allowed four runs and six hits in 2 1-3 innings against Baltimore.

"Mechanically, I felt like I was a little off. I just was kind of spinning too much and got out of sync," Chico said.

The 23-year-old Chico has never pitched above the Double-A level, but he's got a shot at making a starting rotation that is still very much undecided. He didn't help his chances against a Baltimore lineup filled with players that should see action on opening day.

"In any situation, giving up four runs is not really that great," Chico said. "But it depends on what happens later on."

Chico came to the Nationals in the August 2006 trade that sent Livan Hernandez to Arizona. He's pitched in only 121 minor league games, but Nationals first-year manager Manny Acta has put Chico in the mix for a roster spot on opening day.

A few more outings like Friday might make Acta change his mind.

After giving up an RBI single to Miguel Tejada in the first inning, Chico yielded three straight singles in the second to load the bases. He then forced in a run by walking Nick Markakis.

"My whole thought process to Markakis was try to throw a strike and let him hit the ball," Chico said. "Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I wanted him to earn his spot on base and I didn't give him that opportunity."

Chico then struck out Tejada before giving up a two-run single to Aubrey Huff.

"There's always positives to take out of every game," Chico said. "Striking out Tejada gave me confidence in my slider. I just learned the pitch last year, and that's the pitch I struck him out on."

That, and his three-pitch strikeout of Brian Roberts to begin his stint, made it easier for Chico to accept his shortcomings.

"I felt OK about it," he said. "I made some mistakes I wish I could take them back, but I learned a lot."