Manager Frank Robinson is encouraged by the progress of Baltimore Orioles left-hander Jeff Ballard, but is not convinced Ballard has reached 1989 form.
"Jeff, to me, is still coming back," said Robinson. "I like what I see, but he's still on the way back. He has made steady progress. It is a remarkable return from the way he was in 1990."
Ballard led American League left-handers with 18 victories two seasons ago, but was 2-11 last year after two off-season elbow operations.
At this point of 1990, he was 0-5 with a 3.92 ERA, lower than his current 4.47.
"In a way I'm surprised, in a way I'm not," said Robinson.
Defense not up to snuff
The Orioles still are tied with the Texas Rangers for the fewest errors in the league, but Robinson is concerned.
"Fundamentally, that's where our game is suffering," he said. "We're not as sharp as we should be."
Two errors Wednesday night dropped the Orioles to second in the league in fielding percentage behind the California Angels.
Hemond, Robinson meet
Robinson and general manager Roland Hemond had a post-game meeting about the state of the club, but no player moves resulted from it.
"If there was anything to be done, we'd have done it already," said Robinson. "One more game doesn't make you jump into doing something."
Both men are concerned about the team's plunge, however. "The longer it goes like this, the more it becomes a trend," said the manager. "It gets tougher each day. We've got to start showing some positive sides soon."
Ninja turtles for Milacki
Bob Milacki now has a set of ninja turtles, an item which Gregg Olson used last year for good luck.
"We don't know if they'll work," said Olson. "We haven't tried them yet."
Ben McDonald and Brooks Robinson toured the new downtown ballpark today, the first time either has been on the site. Their tour will appear on "This Week in Baseball." . . . Without Jose Mesa factored in, Orioles starting pitchers are 6-14 with a 6.22 ERA. . . . Tonight marks the first of three dates when baseball cards will be given away that feature all 501 players on the all-time roster. The first 120 cards will be distributed.