TONIGHT: Protected no longer, Rhodes says he'll be 'all right' in debut

August 21, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Six days ago, John Oates purposely avoided having Arthur Rhodes make his major-league debut against the Texas Rangers. His resolve broke down over the weekend, however, so tonight (8:35, no TV) the rookie lefthander will get his first big-league test against the same team he was protected from last week.

"It's different for some players, but for the most part I think it's easier to break in on the road," said Oates. "This team [the Rangers] has been tough on lefthanders, but sooner or later he's going to have to pitch against them."

Rhodes, who joined the team Sunday night, made his regular start in Hagerstown rather than Baltimore last Thursday. He finished his Double A season with a 7-4 record and a 2.70 earned run average.

"After the first couple of innings I'll be OK," said Rhodes, anticipating his first major-league start against one of the best hitting teams in baseball. "I'll be nervous for the first few pitches, but then I'll be all right."

The decision to promote Rhodes now rather than wait until Sept. 1 was prompted by the Orioles' desire to give him a solid big-league test this year. "At some point you have to stop living on potential," said Oates. "We've made a commitment to our young pitchers that they're going to get a chance to pitch. Now is his [Rhodes'] time."

Rhodes will be opposed by Texas righthander Kevin Brown (8-9, 4.31) as the Orioles wind up a six-game road trip.

Tomorrow is an off day for the Orioles, who open a six-day homestand against the two division leaders on Friday night. The Minnesota Twins will be at Memorial Stadium for three games this weekend. The Toronto Blue Jays come in for three games beginning on Monday.

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