Unless all the experts in baseball captivity are wrong, the day soon will come when Ben McDonald doesn't have to prove a point.
But for now, every time the big righthander goes to the mound he could be excused for thinking he's faced with more questions than he has answers.
Where's the explosive fastball that's supposed to dominate hitters? What happened to his other three pitches? Where's the pinpoint control that was his trademark? What happened to the pitcher who was supposed to dominate the American League for at least 10 years?
That's heavy stuff for a 23-year-old to have to deal with, but it's been standard fare for McDonald this year. After finishing strong as a rookie a year ago (8-5, 2.43 earned run average), he may have thought his indoctrination period was over -- but that wasn't the case.
"He's closer now to where we want him to be than he has been for a while," said Orioles manager John Oates. "He's made some adjustments, and some progress."
They just haven't always been noticeable, which is why McDonald remains under scrutiny.
Tonight (7:35, HTS), McDonald (5-7, 5.27) makes his 18th start of the season as the Orioles open a three-game series against the AL West-leading Minnesota Twins. He will be opposed by lefthander Allan Anderson (4-8, 4.82), who has given the Orioles a lot of trouble in the past.
In tomorrow's game (changed from 1:15 to 7:35 p.m., with only radio coverage) the Orioles will pitch Bob Milacki (7-7, 4.16), while Tom Edens makes his season debut for the Twins.
Sunday's finale (1:35, HTS) will see Mike Mussina (1-3, 4.38) facing the league's top winner, Scott Erickson (16-5, 2.96).