CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Orioles had hoped to get a running start on the 1992 season, and new coach Davey Lopes says they have succeeded.
"I think we've been very aggressive on the base paths," Lopes said yesterday. "We've made a few mistakes, but that is going to happen. I think that they realize that they were not aggressive enough last year, so they have been very receptive."
Lopes was hired in October as the club's first base coach, but his base-running acumen was a major consideration when manager John Oates added him to the staff. He is a two-time National League stolen base champion, and he was brought in to help get a timid club back on its feet.
"We want to keep the emphasis on base running, because it is an important factor that can help you win ballgames," Lopes said. "It also can help you lose ballgames. That's why we want to put an emphasis on it. You don't want to have to use that as an excuse for losing.
"This club lost 35 one-run games last year. I'm not saying that's connected to base running, but you have to figure that some of those losses were."
The emphasis is not necessarily on base stealing. Oates wanted to see everyone on the club improve his technique on the bases -- from speedy Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux to the not-so-speedy Sam Horn. Lopes worked with everyone, sometimes in groups and sometimes individually, to get the club more in tune to base-running fundamentals.
"We didn't just concentrate on the guys who have speed," Lopes said. "You can't do that. Everybody on the club is responsible for good base running and bad."