FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Jeff Ballard already has more wins this spring than he had all last year. That has about as much impact as his pitching line in the Orioles' 17-9 win over the Dodgers yesterday.
Ballard gave up a three-run home run to Eddie Murray in the first inning and a two-run bolt to Gary Carter in the sixth. In between he accomplished what he set out to do.
"Sometimes, at this time of year, you just have to take a beating and get your work in," said pitching coach Al Jackson. "He was slated to throw 90 pitches and that's exactly how many he threw. I would have liked for him to go seven innings, but he threw 43 pitches in the first two innings."
Windy conditions made it difficult to assess anything yesterday. The hitters were aided by a strong leftfield wind -- but, in fairness to them, the four home runs hit to left yesterday (all with two men on base, three by the Orioles) sounded legitimate.
"I felt pretty good, and my command of pitches got better as I went along," said Ballard, who has a 3-0 exhibition record after finishing 2-11 last year.
"It was a tough day to pitch, and that [Dodgers] lineup is pretty good," said manager Frank Robinson, whose Orioles are now 10-10-1.
* FERNANDO FADEAWAY? Fernando Valenzuela was hammered for eight hits and runs in 3 1/3 innings. The lefthander hardly looked like a pitcher who threw a no-hitter a year ago and is still being counted on to fit into the Dodgers' rotation.
Valenzuela pitched tentatively throughout, was behind on many hitters and his velocity was no better than Jim Palmer displayed in his abbreviated comeback attempt with the Orioles.
The Dodgers no doubt will pay close attention to Valenzuela in the next 10 days. His spring earned run average is a robust 7.88.
* BASEBALL AMERICA TABS RHODES, MUSSINA: In its annual rating of the top 100 minor-league prospects, "Baseball America" named Orioles farmhand Arthur Rhodes as the top lefthanded pitcher. Rhodes was named as the sixth best prospect overall.
Righthander Mike Mussina, who was 19th, was the only other member of the organization in the top 20. Both Rhodes and Mussina started spring training with the Orioles. Rhodes will start the season in the starting rotation for Double A Hagerstown, while Mussina will be a starter for Triple A Rochester.
* MEMORIAL STADIUM MEMORABILIA: In conjunction with the final season at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles have produced an 18x25 inch color lithograph print entitled "A Tradition of Excellence."
Made from an original painting by George Wright, a native of Cambridge, Md., the print features Brooks and Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken Jr. The print, priced at $49.50, can be ordered by mail through the Orioles' offices, and will be available at concession stands and also the club's Baseball Stores. A portion of the proceeds will go to several charities, including the Baltimore Reads Foundation and the Orioles Children's Charities.
* PITCHING PROBABLES: Ben McDonald and Bob Milacki were scheduled to pitch split-squad games today against the Expos. Jeff Robinson, trying to rebound from a rough outing against the White Sox last Sunday, is one of the pitchers slated to face the Yankees tomorrow night.
Jose Mesa and Dave Johnson will start against the Yankees Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
* THIS 'N THAT: With South Florida hoping to impress the National League expansion committee, the Orioles have sold more than 90,000 tickets for two games at Joe Robbie Stadium. The advance for Saturday night is more than 54,000 (which will exceed the normal baseball capacity), with more than 37,000 tickets sold for Easter Sunday.
Cal Ripken is on a tear with 17 hits in his last 28 at-bats -- a .607 clip that has raised his spring average to .455. Ripken had two singles and a triple yesterday and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
After missing the first week, Randy Milligan is hitting .455 (10-for-23) in 10 games. Joe Orsulak has 15 hits in his last 37 at-bats (.405) and is hitting .357 overall.