Frohwirth's 1-hit stint is a welcome relief in worrisome spring

Oriole notebook

March 24, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Relief pitcher Todd Frohwirth took the mound again yesterday, hoping to dispel concern over his lackluster performance during the first two weeks of the exhibition season.

The results were encouraging. He pitched two innings of one-hit relief in the Orioles' 5-2 exhibition victory over the New York Yankees at Al Lang Stadium, a performance that should allay some doubts about his ability to build on his breakthrough 1991 season.

"I felt pretty good today," Frohwirth said. "I don't know why, but I felt good. But since 1988 was the only other year I got to pitch much in spring training, I don't really know how I'm supposed to feel."

Manager John Oates expressed some concern Sunday that Frohwirth had not displayed the velocity that made him one of the most effective middle relievers in baseball last year but said yesterday that there was no cause for alarm.

"I've taken special notice of a difference in velocity," Oates said, "but it's nothing to get upset about yet. If it hasn't changed in a week, it might be a different story. The last two weeks are very important to a reliever."

Frohwirth entered yesterday's game with a 10.13 ERA in five appearances. He has given up nine earned runs in eight innings, but six of those came in his second appearance. Since then, he has been working on his mechanics with pitching coach Dick Bosman and says he has made progress. His five ground-ball outs in yesterday's game were an indication that he is on the right track.

"Bos and I were talking the other day, and we don't think there's a problem," Frohwirth said. "The spin on the breaking ball is real good. The speed is there, and the fastball is there."

Oates needed to see him pitch well yesterday to agree on that count. He has been more closely focused on the club's starting rotation during the first half of the exhibition schedule, but he will be looking for a more consistent performance from Frohwirth the rest of the way.

"Bullpen innings are so sporadic," he said. "It's tough to get a read. Early in spring, you're trying to build endurance and stamina for your starters. It's the last two weeks when you really get a chance to look at your bullpen."

* BRADY DELIVERS: Center-fielder Brady Anderson delivered a bases-loaded single in the second inning yesterday, driving home two runs in the Orioles' five-run second inning. The two RBIs were Anderson's first of the exhibition season. The hit raised his spring average to .233.

* BELL'S BIG HIT: Utility player Juan Bell has been struggling to produce a respectable average, but he also delivered a big hit in the five-run second. He doubled home two runs to give the Orioles the lead. He also reached base with a walk.

* MINOR-LEAGUE VISIT: The Orioles will take advantage of the proximity of their minor-league camp in Sarasota to get some extra work for some of the major-league players. Designated hitter Sam Horn will play in minor-league games at Twin Lakes Park today and Thursday to get some extra at-bats. Reliever Mike Flanagan will go down to start tomorrow's game and pitch three innings. And Jose Mesa is scheduled to throw six innings at Twin Lakes Park on Friday.

"We need to stretch Flanny out some," Oates said. "He hasn't thrown enough pitches. Sam will play down there Tuesday and Thursday and DH for us on Wednesday, so he'll get 12 at-bats in three days."

Mesa has to start somewhere. He is pitching as well as anyone, but he is not -- as yet -- in the spring rotation, so it is hard to get him sufficient innings.

* CATCHING UPDATE: Veteran Rick Dempsey walked and sacrificed in four plate appearances yesterday, but his batting average pales next to that of apparent rival Jeff Tackett. Dempsey has three hits in 16 exhibition at-bats for a .188 average. Tackett has four hits and three RBIs in seven "A" game at-bats.

* WINS BEAR FRUIT: With yesterday's victory, the Orioles improved their Grapefruit League record to 13-5, easily the best in the major leagues.

"I think we're going to win this thing," Frohwirth said. "What do you get for that -- a big grapefruit?"

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