'A' lineup hits the spot for Robinson in debut Milligan, C. Ripken, Davis, Evans together

March 23, 1991|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Correspondent

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Frank Robinson strode off the field at Ed Smith Stadium yesterday with a satisfied look on his face.

For the first time all spring, Robinson had the "A" team intact to play the Minnesota Twins, and what he saw made him a happy man.

With Randy Milligan, Cal Ripken, Glenn Davis and Dwight Evans batting consecutively for the first time, the Orioles played textbook offensive baseball and beat the Twins, 3-1.

The bottom of the first inning in the Orioles' final game at Ed Smith Stadium (which has served as their home field), when they scored all of their runs, was a microcosm of what can happen when veteran hitters do all the right things.

"We got guys in and over, a dual purpose," said Robinson. "Then Evans got another one in. It's nice to see guys do that without being told. It's what the game is all about. These things win for you."

The inning began when Mike Devereaux and Milligan both exercised patience and drew walks from Minnesota starter Allan Anderson.

Hot-hitting Ripken doubled in the first run before Davis grounded out to the right side to score Milligan and send Ripken to third. Another well-placed grounder by Evans scored Ripken for a 3-0 lead that Jeff Ballard and three relievers protected.

"It feels good to have the people you're counting on healthy," said Robinson. "They know how to get themselves ready for the year. And what is good about this lineup is that every guy knows everything doesn't depend on him."

That was a sentiment echoed by Davis, who had not played since March 12 because of muscle spasms in his neck.

In the National League with the Houston Astros, opponents pitched around Davis often and fed him a steady diet of breaking pitches. With the Orioles, they will have to face his power because of the hitters around him in the order.

"I can go back to being a little more aggressive," he said. "With this lineup it's 'what do you do?' You have to pitch to somebody."

Evans, Milligan and Ripken collected two hits each, and Davis added a solid single.

Robinson said that neither Evans nor Davis will make the long trip to Haines City today for a game against the Kansas City Royals. He has no intention of rushing Evans into the outfield -- all his at-bats have been as a designated hitter -- because "he knows how to play out there."

The key is not to see what the two players can do; the key is to have them ready for Opening Day, when it counts.

"I've got a lot of stiffness in my shoulder," said Davis, who had an ice pack applied in the area afterward. "There was some pain throwing because the junk in there is moving down.

"But the spasms are going away, and I'm at the point now where I can play through it. Hopefully, playing will loosen it up."

Davis said he has continued to work out at Twin Lakes Park but that "game conditions are a whole lot different. My first swing was bad and I said 'oh, no.' It was like I had never picked up a bat before.

"It'll take getting used to things. A lot of it is just muscles trying to compensate for other muscles. They're out of balance."

The Opening Day opponent, the Chicago White Sox, probably will start a right-handed pitcher, so it is possible, but not likely, that Sam Horn could be in the lineup.

"It really doesn't matter who pitches," Robinson said.

And the third-base situation is not resolved yet between Leo Gomez (who played yesterday) and Craig Worthington (who didn't).

But, with perhaps some minor adjustments, yesterday's batting order looked like the one that will start April 8.

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