TORONTO -- The Baltimore Orioles continue to marvel at the vast potential of rookie pitcher Ben McDonald, whose three-hitter Wednesday night still was a hot topic of conversation yesterday.
"The thing about him that impresses you is that the kid still wants to learn," manager Frank Robinson said. "When we have pitching meetings, he asks good questions. He's very into the game.
"He's not just going to be successful because of his talent, but because he's going to absorb it up here [pointing to his head]. He's going to learn."
The first thing McDonald has to learn is not to be too good. His control has been so consistent that he could run the risk of becoming too predictable. He has the stuff to win anyway, but Robinson would like to see opposing hitters less confident that the batter's box is a safe place.
"Don't get me wrong, I like everything he's done," Robinson said, "but he might be a little more effective if he was a little wild at times. I'd like them [the hitters] with their cleats above ground instead of getting a toehold."
McDonald doesn't dispute this observation. He's heard it at least once before.
"My college coach was always telling me the same thing," he said. "I have to learn how to throw balls and not let them dig in. I did it a couple of times last night. I did it with [Alan] Trammell because he was kind of hanging out over the plate."
Trammell almost paid with the rest of his season. The ball was up and in, and it would have hit him on the hand if he had not pulled his hand off the bat at the last moment.
"He might have been out of the game," McDonald said, "but when you see a guy leaning out over the plate, you have to do something about it. That's what [pitching coach] Al Jackson is always telling us. Half the plate is yours, and half belongs to the hitter. It's just a matter of determining which half you're going to take."
*Gregg Olson survived another rocky performance to record his 31st save, but that wasn't enough to keep Robinson from expressing concern about the condition of his arm.
"There's always concern," Robinson said. "You look at the [lack of] sharpness. I just wish he'd make it easy on himself. He's throwing a lot of pitches."
Olson, who needed 27 pitches to work 1 1/3 innings, said there was nothing physically wrong with him.
*Robinson won't come right out and say that Rochester Red Wings knuckleballer Daniel Boone will be one of the call-ups after the Red Wings complete their postseason series against the Omaha Royals for the Triple-A Alliance championship, but he seems eager to see him.
Boone has won 11 games for the Red Wings and has earned the promotion, but it seems unlikely that a 36-year-old Senior League reclamation project will play heavily in the Orioles' future.
"People laugh because he came from the Senior League," Robinson said. "You laugh because of his height [he's 5 feet 6]. You laugh because of his age. But the guy has been in the big leagues before. It's not a circus-type thing."
Boone, catcher Chris Hoiles, third baseman Leo Gomez and pitchers Mickey Weston and Brian Holton seem likely to be among the call-ups.
*Today is the anniversary of the Toronto Blue Jays' major-league-record, 10-homer performance against the Orioles. On Sept. 14, 1987, Ernie Whitt hit three homers, George Bell and Rance Mulliniks had two each, and Lloyd Moseby, Fred McGriff and Rob Ducey had one apiece.