Left-hander Mike Flanagan was welcomed back to Memorial Stadium with two tremendous ovations, one when he was introduced during pregame ceremonies and another after he pitched the final inning of the Baltimore Orioles' 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
"I would be lying if I told you that I didn't have some butterflies," Flanagan said. "The reception they gave me, it was special. Regardless of the results, there is a long way to go and it was a wonderful day for me."
Flanagan had not pitched here in an Orioles uniform since Aug. 27, 1987, four days before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitching prospects Jose Mesa and Oswald Peraza.
His 1991 debut was perfect, even if the rest of the day was a disappointment. He retired all three batters he faced, getting Scott Fletcher and Tim Raines on ground outs before striking out Lance Johnson to end the inning.
"I pitched against the White Sox in spring training, and I felt pretty comfortable pitching against them," Flanagan said. "I've always felt that if I'm healthy, I will get people out. My arm is much stronger than it was at this time last year."
Flanagan, 39, was with the Blue Jays at this time last year, but he was released in May and spent the next six months getting his arm back into shape. He worked out with the Orioles during the off-season and was offered a non-roster invitation to spring camp, where he was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
McDonald watches and waits
Right-hander Ben McDonald originally was scheduled to start yesterday's opener, which made it even more difficult to watch as the White Sox turned it into a rout.
"It was tough sitting there," McDonald said. "It was such a great day, and the White Sox, I've thrown pretty well against them."
McDonald was matched against Jack McDowell in his starting debut last year. He pitched a four-hit shutout and went on to win eight games in the second half of the season.
He has opened the 1991 season on the disabled list, but said that the soreness in his right elbow is subsiding. He threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since he was scratched from a March 28 start against the Montreal Expos, but will not be available until at least April 14.
Olson: one inning at a time
Manager Frank Robinson said yesterday that relief ace Gregg Olson seldom will be used for more than one inning at a time this season.
"I started to do that last year," Robinson said. "That should save some wear and tear on his arm. Hopefully, we won't get him up unless we're ahead or he's coming into the game."
Robinson indicated that there would be no pre-arranged limit to the number of consecutive games Olson can pitch, but the club figures to handle him conservatively.
Olson suffered from a tired elbow late last season and had to be sidelined for a few days last week with a sore shoulder. But he said he is ready to pitch.
Kilgus makes decent debut
Left-hander Paul Kilgus, a surprise addition to the club Sunday, pitched 2 1/3 innings yesterday and gave up just two hits and one run, a bases-empty home run to Sammy Sosa.
"It was fine except for one pitch," Kilgus said. "It was a changeup, but you really couldn't call it a changeup because I threw it too hard. It didn't stop where it was supposed to.
"But I was pleased. I got the lefties out, I got ahead of the hitters and in the double-play situation I got a double-play ball. It was good to get out there."
Welcome to Baltimore, Glenn
First baseman Glenn Davis was credited with an RBI after hdoubled in his first regular-season at-bat as an Oriole, even though White Sox left fielder Cory Snyder bobbled the ball after he played the carom off the wall. Cal Ripken would have stopped at third if the ball had been fielded cleanly, but Snyder was not charged with an error, so Davis was awarded his first American League RBI.
Orioles wear stadium patch
The Orioles commissioned a spe-cial logo to commemoratthe team's final season at Memorial Stadium. All uniformed personnel will wear the patch on their left sleeves.
The White Sox also are wearing a stadium patch on their uniforms, but it celebrates the opening of the new Comiskey Park.
Sellout crowd big but . . .
The sellout crowd of 50,213 was only the third-largest crowd the Orioles have played in front of this year. They drew 67,654 on March 30 and 57,359 on March 31 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.
The Orioles didn't have a home stadium, but they set a club record for spring attendance, averaging 24,135 for the nine "home" games that were played at various sites.
They threw true to form
The statistics didn't lie.
Last season, opponents batted .298 against McDowell durin the first pass through the batting order, but only .215 in subsequent trips. That was the largest disparity in the majors.
Yesterday, the Orioles got two hits in the first inning agains McDowell and did not have another multi-hit inning against him.
The reverse was true of Ballard in 1990. Foes batted .248 durin the first pass, but .328 in subsequent trips, the biggest difference in the majors.