HAINES CITY, Fla. -- If anyone was wondering what kind of team the Orioles hope to be in 1992, they need only look at their four-run fourth inning in yesterday's 10-4 exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Bill Ripken delivered a perfect hit-and-run single to send Leo Gomez from first to third, then catcher Jeff Tackett brought Gomez home with a successful squeeze bunt.
Manager John Oates has been saying for months that the club's running game would be a spring priority, and he has followed through. The Orioles were aggressive on the bases and likely will continue to force the action throughout the exhibition season. But Oates said they will not do so unless they have the right people in place at the time.
"We're not going to try to do that all the time," Oates said. "We're not going to go wild on the bases. Our approach is to be more aggressive, not reckless. I was happy with our performance today, but we made some mistakes."
Leadoff candidate Darrell Sherman opened yesterday's game with a bunt single and went to third on a base hit by Juan Bell, but Bell was caught off first base. Sherman scored a couple of runs, but he was caught stealing in the third and failed to score from first on a long double by Bell in the sixth.
"The idea is to be aggressive but under control," Oates said. "Darrell went from first to third in the first inning. That's great. But Juan was thrown out on the play. We should have had runners at first and third there. Darrell also should have scored on the double. He's got to score from first on that.
"The idea is to be opportunistic. To take what they give you and not give anything back."