Oates and his pitchers are talking a good game

Orioles notebook

February 23, 1993|By Peter Schmuck and Jim Henneman | Peter Schmuck and Jim Henneman,Staff Writers

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Johnny Oates had a brief meeting with reliever Gregg Olson yesterday -- the first in a series of private conversations the Orioles manager intends to have with each pitcher in camp.

"In the next two days, I hope to talk to all of them," said Oates. "I'm not going to call them all into my office [as he did with Olson yesterday], because that makes it look like too big a deal.

"I just want to get a little information from everybody and let them know what I'm thinking."

Oates mentioned he particularly wanted to speak with Mike Flanagan. "Right now he probably has no idea what's going around," said Oates. "He's a veteran who needs to be talked to."

Flanagan is one of six non-roster pitchers in camp trying to win a job. Oates intends to speak with each one of them, as well as the 14 who are on the big-league roster.

Mills signs up

Pitchers Alan Mills and Anthony Telford and outfielder Jack Voigt agreed to terms yesterday, leaving the Orioles with nine unsigned players.

In keeping with team policy regarding players with less than three years' service, terms of the contracts were not announced. Mills, who was 10-4 with a 2.61 ERA last year, undoubtedly got a significant increase over the $137,000 he made last year.

Voigt, who is on the roster for the first time, and Telford, who has a total of 98 days of major-league service, are both in the $109,000 minimum salary range.

Injury update

Pitchers Arthur Rhodes and Mike Oquist and catcher Cesar Devares were bothered yesterday by what Oates described as "nagging" injuries. None of the three missed any scheduled work.

"Oquist has a sore Achilles', but he got his throwing done," said Oates. "Arthur has a [recurring] problem with his right big toe."

Devares fouled a ball off his foot during batting practice.

Hoiles unrestricted

Catcher Chris Hoiles still keeps his right wrist tightly wrapped, but he is under no physical restrictions in his spring training routine.

Hoiles, who underwent surgery to repair a broken wrist in October, claims there still is some residual stiffness, but he is looking forward to opening the season in the starting lineup.

"I've done everything so far," he said. "Throwing-wise, I'm not trying to fire the ball on a line to second yet. That'll take some time. I'm just easing into everything from a throwing standpoint, but the hitting is coming along real good."

Gomez healthy

Third baseman Leo Gomez spent the winter building up his right shoulder, hoping to avoid surgery. If he were to require an operation to tighten up his loose shoulder capsule, he would be lost for the season, but the off-season program may have done the trick.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "I had the same problem with my

other shoulder a few years ago, but I have built it up every year and it's no problem."

Of course, being a right-handed thrower, his right shoulder is the one that takes the most abuse during the season, so the Orioles are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Mini-project

Oates will not be undertaking any major spring conversion projects this year. There will be nothing like the Randy Milligan left-field experiment of 1991 or the Juan Bell second-base conversion. But Oates will go forward with his attempt to find out if utilityman Mark McLemore can play the outfield in an emergency.

McLemore will get much more playing time if he can play positions other than second base. Oates is confident that he will be able to make the adjustment, which would add more flexibility to the roster.

Flanagan looking for innings

Left-hander Flanagan would like his spring training routine to be more reminiscent of 1991 than 1992. He pitched far more innings that first spring and would like to do so again.

"I only pitched about 10 innings last spring. I threw 30 innings the year before. I never seemed to get my feet on the ground last year."

Mound time may be scarce with all the extra fifth-starter candidates that have been brought to camp, so Flanagan can only hope that he ends up stretching out in some B games during the exhibition season.

Right/left balance

Of the 20 pitchers in camp, eight are left-handed. That's a reflection of the club's desire to balance its pitching depth at the major-league and Triple-A levels.

"That's a high percentage," general manager Roland Hemond said. "I would doubt there are many teams in baseball right now with eight left-handers in camp."

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