McDonald on course after OK outing

March 16, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

CLEARWATER, FLA — CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-hander Ben McDonald gave up a run on four hits over four innings yesterday to get the decision in the Orioles' 3-1 exhibition victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Jack Russell Stadium.

McDonald was not as overpowering as he had been in a couple of previous outings, but he stepped up to four innings and remained very much on schedule to open the season among the club's top three starting pitchers.

"I didn't think Ben popped the ball the way he had been," manager John Oates said. "That's about nine innings now. He's pitched three times. He just didn't have that pop today."

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes followed McDonald to the mound and pitched three innings of one-hit relief. Newcomer Alan Mills added a scoreless inning and Gregg Olson survived a rocky ninth to earn his second save of the spring.

Outfielder Joe Orsulak provided the biggest blow for the Orioles, hitting his first home run of the spring in the third inning. He also drove in a run with a ground out.

The Orioles are 7-3 in exhibition play, their best spring start since 1985.

Horn still hobbled

Designated hitter Sam Horn asked for the opportunity to play in Saturday's exhibition game against Kansas City, but Oates said Horn would not return to the lineup until he is physically ready to do everything in his job description.

Horn has been sidelined with a hamstring strain since the first week of spring training. He has shown some improvement, but still is not ready to run the bases.

"He wanted to play yesterday [Saturday], but he couldn't run," Oates said. "I said, 'OK, what's going to happen when you hit the ball into the hole at short and you need to run.' He said, 'I'll jog.' I said, 'How is that going to look?' Give him credit. He wants to get back in there, but he's not going to play until he's ready."

Oates said Horn has volunteered to go to the Orioles' minor-league camp at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota to get some at-bats, an option that may be explored in the next few days.

"He's champing at the bit to swing the bat," Oates said, "but I don't want him to go out and blow it [the hamstring] up again. We're letting it heal. Let's get it finished."

Horn cannot afford to miss most of spring training. He needs to get his timing down at the plate if he is going to be the club's left-handed designated hitter. Oates said he doesn't know how long that will take.

"He'll get plenty of at-bats," Oates said, "even if I have to send him to Sarasota to get eight a day."

Poole set to pitch tonight

Left-hander Jim Poole, who has been out of action all spring with a sore shoulder, is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut tonight against the New York Yankees at Fort Lauderdale. Poole threw batting practice for the first time in three weeks on Friday and was tentatively scheduled to pitch in yesterday's game against the Phillies.

The coaching staff decided to hold back the pitcher, who has shoulder tendinitis, one more day.

Davis still in rotation

Right-hander Storm Davis remains scheduled to take his normal turn on Wednesday, though a sore Achilles' tendon has to make that tentative.

If Davis cannot go, left-hander Dennis Rasmussen probably would take his place. Rasmussen figures to be next in line for a starting job if anyone drops from consideration.

Mercedes bruised

Outfielder Luis Mercedes was hit on the right wrist by a pickoff throw in yesterday's game. He continued to play, but had to put the wrist on ice after the game. He could be sore for a few days.

Other roster moves

The Orioles sent four more players to their minor-league facility in Sarasota. Infielders Ricky Gutierrez and Manny Alexander, pitcher Brad Pennington and catcher Cesar Devares were reassigned to minor-league rosters. The moves leave the Orioles with 40 players in camp.

Devereaux still out

Center fielder Mike Devereaux, who suffered a groin strain running the bases Thursday in Bradenton, did not play yesterday and probably will not be in the lineup for tonight's game. The Orioles are playing it safe because Devereaux is the only outfielder who figures to play every day this year.

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