Milacki enters 'extended spring training'


April 11, 1991|By Peter Schmuckand Kent Baker

Bob Milacki said he was not really considering the possibility of being optioned to the minor leagues while he experimented with his delivery during spring training.

Now Milacki, who is commuting to Hagerstown tonight for his first start of the season, doesn't know whether he is fish or fowl.

"In some ways, you feel a part of the team; in some you don't," said Milacki, who was cut from the Baltimore Orioles roster the day before the opener. "When the team has a meeting, you wonder whether you should be there."

Milacki will pitch for the Suns against the Williamsport Bills after working out with the Orioles for four days. He will make his next two starts for Hagerstown during a 10-game road trip.

"Sometimes, it helps to be working on things in the spring; sometimes it doesn't," he said. "I guess this time it didn't.

"This is like extended spring training to me. They want to see my velocity get better, but pitchers don't usually throw super-hard coming out of spring training. I really don't think I'm too far away at all. I was getting quite a few strikeouts with my changeup, and that's always a good sign."

Milacki allowed one run in five innings during his final exhibition game, a home run to the Boston Red Sox's Mike Greenwell. Overall this spring, he was 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA and permitted 30 hits in 25 innings.

Call the wind an ally

Winning pitcher Greg Hibbard said he never has pitched in a nastier wind than last night's, not even at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

"A couple of times I used the wind," he said. "When it's blowing in that hard, it can help. Randy Milligan hit a bolt to center field [in the fourth inning] that is probably out of there on a regular day.

"Actually, you don't feel as bad when you challenge somebody because he has to hit a rocket to get it out."

A technician who relies on guile rather than power, Hibbard said his biggest problem was staying balanced on the mound.

"Keeping my balance was the toughest thing. A couple of times it was hard to do when I was lifting my leg," he said. "Luckily, I pitched in a game in spring training when the wind was worse than that. I had a battle that whole day."

Hibbard didn't mind coming out of the game in the ninth for Bobby Thigpen.

"We got a guy who saved 57 last year and have a two-run lead," he said. "I'd love to pitch a shutout, but we're not going to be a one-man team. It was fine."

Fletcher tough with men on

Scott Fletcher is known as a rugged batter to face with runners on base.

Last season, the White Sox second baseman hit 141 points higher in that situation than with the bases empty (.323 to .182).

"I try not to think that I bear down more then, because you want to be good in every situation," said Fletcher, whose two-run double decided the 2-0 game.

"I just got lucky that the wind kind of took it away from [Mike] Devereaux. It dropped in there pretty nice."

Flanagan still perfect

After two relief appearances spanning three innings, left-hander Mike Flanagan still has not allowed a runner.

"So far, I've been all right in this role," he said. "I'm learning more each time out there."

Counting spring training, he has not allowed an earned run in 17 innings this year. Last night, 15 of his 21 pitches were strikes.

Milligan under the lights

For Milligan, it's a new challenge every day. He played left field at Memorial Stadium for the first time Monday, then played that position under the lights for the first time last night.

It could have been a rough night for a neophyte outfielder, but Milligan came through.

"They were testing me, but they hit line drives at me," the left fielder said. "They were coming at me fast, but on a night like this they are the best kind to get. Those high ones give you the trouble."

Milligan said outfield coach Curt Motton will have him out to the park early in Texas this weekend.

"I've got the wind field down there, too," he said.

Promotions stress history

The theme "A Season to Remember" will dominate the Orioles' 1991 promotions, which accent history.

Highlighting this year's giveaways are special-edition baseball cards of every modern Oriole and a series of posters commemorating "Memorial Moments."

Memorial Stadium season pins and baseball caps also are featured, along with the Major League Baseball Heroes of Baseball Game pitting all-time Orioles against all-time Orioles killers.

Suns, Keys won't play here

The practice of having the Orioles' Maryland-based minor-league teams play a game each at Memorial Stadium has been suspended.

"We wanted them back," Ken Nigro, the Orioles' director of special projects, said of the Hagerstown Suns and Frederick Keys. "But they decided not to play in Baltimore after the agreement" between the major leagues and minor leagues.

Both the Keys and Suns had followed an Orioles game on a Sunday afternoon with a league game of their own.

J. Robinson to start Sunday

Right-hander Jeff Robinson will make his Orioles debut in Sunday's game against the Texas Rangers, and he's scheduled to face all-time strikeout king Nolan Ryan.

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