SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Johnny Oates has been impressed with the way that designated hitter Harold Baines has been swinging the bat during the first few days of spring workouts, but he isn't surprised.
"It's ridiculous how good he's swinging," Oates said. "Every time, his head is down on the ball. He's hitting nothing but line drives. That's the reason he was brought here. He's a quality person with a quality bat."
Oates is excited about the lineup possibilities that Baines presents. He said last week that he hoped to use the veteran outfielder in right field for 25 to 30 games and get another 100 from him out of the designated hitter slot.
"I don't know if I've played 30-35 games in the outfield any of the last six years," Baines said. "It would be real nice if I could. I wish I could say yes, but I don't know."
This is not a matter of great concern to Oates, who won't need Baines in the outfield at all if everything goes according to plan. It all depends on whether Glenn Davis can play first base on an everyday basis.
"If Glenn is able to toe the line, he [Baines] won't need to play right field at all," Oates said.
Baines will make his first competitive appearance in an Orioles uniform on Sunday, when the club plays its first home game at Al Lang Stadium. He will remain behind at the Huggins/Stengel Training Complex in St. Petersburg the first two games because they will be played without the DH rule.
Los Angeles Dodgers scout Mel Didier had some positive things to say about left-hander Fernando Valenzuela during a visit to Twin Lakes Park yesterday. Didier watched Valenzuela pitch in the Caribbean Series.
"He did two or three things real well," Didier said, "even though he had not pitched in about a month. He pitched inside and didn't get behind hitters. When he closed out the last two or three years with us, he was getting behind guys. He was too cautious."
Didier would not speculate on Valenzuela's chances of making a successful comeback, but he would not count him out either.
"Don't let that little round stomach fool you," he said. "Fernando is a great athlete. He can run, he can bunt and he can field his position."
Six pitchers will be available to follow Rick Sutcliffe to the mound in Friday's exhibition opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
Mike Cook, Jamie Moyer, Brad Pennington, Alan Mills, Jeff Williams and Todd Stephan will be in the traveling party. At least four of them will get to pitch after Sutcliffe faces Pirates left-hander Randy Tomlin for a couple of innings.
Intrasquad game today
Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe will take the mound today to start the first of two Orioles intrasquad games. The club will play 10 innings today and 10 tomorrow, with each of the 20 pitchers who opened camp scheduled to throw two innings.
Frohwirth gets instruction
Right-hander Todd Frohwirth spent some quality time with pitching coach Dick Bosman yesterday, working on some of the mechanical aspects of his delivery.
"He just talked to me about pitching," Frohwirth said. "We talked about certain mechanical things, like being quicker to the plate."
Frohwirth beguiled Orioles infielders at times with his sidearm throws to first and second base, but he said that he does not intend to try to throw overhand this year.
"I can't throw overhand," he said. "Every time I throw overhand, I hurt my shoulder. But I've been doing much better on fundamental drills."