KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- John Oates says he is more than satisfied with the first two starts by Jose Mesa.
"He's been very firm -- much better than decent," the Orioles manager said of the right-hander who is working on an erratic schedule during the early weeks of the season.
Mesa pitched 5 1/3 solid innings in a 3-1 loss to Toronto April 12, then worked 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday night's 10-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. Mesa is the odd pitcher out whenever the Orioles have an off-day.
It is a role that many young pitchers have had trouble adjusting to in the past. "He's handled it very well so far," said Oates.
Mesa, 25, will make his third start of the season Sunday in New York, then miss his next turn before joining the rotation on a permanent basis. In his first two outings, Mesa has a 1-1 record, a 3.75 earned run average and has allowed 15 hits in 12 innings, walking three and striking out six.
* KEEPING SPIRITS HOPPING: The Orioles held their first "Kangaroo Court" session of the year yesterday, and Oates was one of the first to be fined -- for breaking one of his own rules.
Oates wasn't on the top step of the dugout for the playing of the national anthem before Saturday's nationally televised game against Cleveland. "They played the anthem 20 minutes before game time because of national TV," said Oates, who nevertheless didn't appeal his fine.
Coach Greg Biagini was hit big time by the anthem rule -- having been cited for missing three times.