ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Right-hander Storm Davis limped off the field last night after aggravating a lingering heel injury that could endanger his chances of opening the season in the Orioles starting rotation.
Davis pulled up lame after covering first base in the fifth inning of last night's 3-1 exhibition victory over the Texas Rangers. He has been bothered by soreness in his left heel since he arrived in spring training.
Club officials said last night that it still isn't considered serious. Davis was examined by a local physician, Dr. Michael Smith, who indicated that he was suffering from an inflamed tendon. No doubt, he will undergo a more complete examination before he takes the mound again.
"I thought I stepped on a rock out there," Davis said. "Then I took a couple more steps. I don't have the medical knowledge to explain it, but there's something wrong in there."
Davis said he first began to experience pain in the heel during the off-season. X-rays taken during the winter revealed a small bone spur, but he said the pain he experienced last night was not in the same area.
"It hadn't bothered me the last two weeks," he said. "I had been doing everything."
He was settling into a groove when the pain returned. He had retired the first four batters he faced after a so-so debut Monday. He went back to the mound to see if he could continue, but manager John Oates ordered him out of the game.
"He told me if there was any pain at all, he didn't want me to throw another pitch," Davis said. "I'm sort of in limbo now, as far as what they want to do."
Davis was acquired from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Bob Melvin to help shore up the club's pitching staff, but it is not known how much the injury will set back his throwing schedule.
Former Oriole Jeff Robinson was a surprise starter in last night's game at Al Lang Stadium. He pitched four innings and gave up two runs on two hits and two walks.
The Orioles scored both runs in the second inning. Chris Hoiles brought home the first with a sharp double to left and Robinson brought home the other with a wild pitch.
Robinson, who is with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee, appears to have a good chance of opening the season in manager Bobby Valentine's rotation.
Outfield prospects Luis Mercedes and Darrell Sherman have been getting a lot of playing time lately, but that is as much out of necessity as it is an attempt to evaluate them.
The Orioles roster might be crowded with outfield candidates, but so is the training room.
Center fielder Mike Devereaux was held out of last night's lineup after suffering a slight groin muscle pull in Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right fielder Chito Martinez jammed his shoulder diving for a ball in Tuesday's game and could miss the rest of the weekend. And Brady Anderson has been bothered all spring by an ankle sprain, although he played last night and even stole a base.
Devereaux is day-to-day. Oates said he might be in the lineup for today's exhibition against the Kansas City Royals, but it seems likely the club will be slow to put him back into the lineup. He has nothing to prove and everything to lose by rushing back.
Designated hitter Sam Horn has been on the sidelines with a sore hamstring, but he could make his 1992 spring debut today or tomorrow.
"He called me today," Oates said yesterday. "He wanted to talk about playing tomorrow. We'll see. Everybody has plenty of time."
Horn injured his hamstring during a base-running drill two weeks ago.
Hickey gets tryout with Phillies
Former Orioles reliever Kevin Hickey got a tryout with Philadelphia Phillies farm director Del Unser this week, but he still has no firm prospects for this year.
Hickey has been working out after hours at the Orioles compound, but hopes to find at least a minor-league job with some other organization.
"I asked Del Unser, 'Hey, tell me if I'm wasting my time,' " Hickey said. "He said, 'Hell no.' They thought my breaking ball was excellent, even though I've only thrown off a mound three times this spring."
Poole throws batting practice
Left-hander Jim Poole threw batting practice yesterday and hopes to be ready to pitch in exhibition action tomorrow, but Oates said the club would continue to move ahead slowly with Poole's sore shoulder.
"If he's tentatively scheduled to pitch on Sunday, it's tentative with a capital T," Oates said.
Poole has been sidelined with tendinitis since his first couple of spring workouts.
* First baseman Glenn Davis entered last night's game tied for the American League lead with two spring training home runs.
* Shortstop Cal Ripken was tied for fifth with six RBI.
* Reliever Jim Lewis leads all spring pitchers with two saves.
* Mike Mussina was tied for fourth with six strikeouts.