SARASOTA, Fla. -- Sparky Anderson thinks the Orioles may be the prime challenger in the American League's Eastern Division race. But the Detroit manager has no question about the team he regards as the favorite.
"Anybody who can beat Boston will win it," Anderson said before watching his split-squad team lose a 5-1 decision to the Orioles, who likewise played with a split roster. "The Red Sox have everything set up perfect. They have a lot of depth."
As far as perennial favorite Toronto, Anderson has backed off the team he annually picks to win it all. "The way I look at it," he said, "they lost George Bell [to free agency] and got nothing back.
"Right there, that makes them weaker. I think Baltimore may have gone past Toronto. It's a good team, and the addition of [Glenn] Davis has got to help them."
As for his own team, which was the surprise of the division with a third-place finish last year, Anderson said: "We're going to have to score a lot of runs."
In an effort to do that, Anderson has installed former Oriole Mickey Tettleton as his every day catcher and will bat him seventh in the lineup. "He's doing great," Anderson said of Tettleton, who didn't make the trip here yesterday. "He hit a home run last night that was as far as I've ever seen one hit at our place."
Ironically, the blast came off former batterymate Pete Harnisch, one of the key players in the Orioles' trade for Davis. In an effort to break up a potentially awesome strikeout trio -- Cecil Fielder, Rob Deer and Tettleton -- Anderson will use contact hitters before and after Fielder.
Shortstop Alan Trammell will bat third and second baseman Lou Whitaker fifth, with Deer and Tettleton hitting sixth and seventh.
* BLUEFIELD REUNION: During pre-game practice yesterday, the Orioles' Cal Ripken and Larry Sheets, who played last year for the Tigers, and Detroit outfielder John Shelby huddled behind the batting cage.
The three broke in together with the Orioles' Bluefield (W. Va.) Rookie League team in 1978.
* MISCUES GALORE: The Orioles were charged with four infield errors in an 8-4 loss to the Yankees in Fort Lauderdale yesterday and manager Frank Robinson said it should have been more.
"They were generous to us [and the Yankees hitters]," said Robinson. "We should have had two more. We couldn't catch the ball."
It should come as no surprise that Jeff Robinson gave up two unearned runs in his five-inning stint. The righthander, obtained from Detroit in the Tettleton trade, has given up 11 unearned runs (out of 17 total) in three appearances.
"He threw very well," Robinson the manager said of Robinson the pitcher. The Yankees managed only one hit off Robinson, who struck out two and walked two.
* MOOSE: Randy Milligan played seven innings in leftfield against the Yankees, giving him 15 outfield innings so far this spring. He is still looking for his first putout or assist.
Though he hasn't had to catch a fly ball yet, Milligan has had a little practice running down base hits. "He catches them and throws them back," said Robinson.
So far, so good. Oh yes, Milligan went 2-for-3 yesterday, with a bases-loaded double that drove in three runs in the third inning.
* THE DAVIS REPORT: Davis participated in a lengthy batting session yesterday, but was not in uniform for the game against the Tigers.
The first baseman, who has been sidelined by a muscle spasm in the neck, is expected to be ready tomorrow, when the Orioles travel to Dunedin to face Toronto.
* THIS 'N THAT: Joe Orsulak, who was 1-for-3 in the win over the Tigers, is 10-for-22 (.455) in his last six games.
Mike Devereaux, 2-for-3 against the Yankees, is 10-for-23 (.435) in his last seven games.
Brady Anderson broke a 1-for-17 slump with two hits in three at-bats against the Yankees.
Dave Johnson, Jose Mesa and John Mitchell were scheduled to face the Mets this afternoon. Ben McDonald will make his fourth appearance of the spring against Toronto tomorrow.
Juan Bell (two), Leo Gomez and Tim Hulett were charged with the errors against the Yankees, and Cal Ripken had one in the game against Detroit. In the past seven games the Orioles have made 18 errors, leading to 19 unearned runs.