Baines ends drought with 4-for-4 outing Veteran credits extra work at camp Spring Training

March 27, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For most of the spring, Harold Baines' bat has been as quiet as the Orioles' new designated hitter. But all that changed yesterday, when the St. Michael's native went 4-for-4 in the 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

One person who wasn't concerned about Baines' early spring record was manager Johnny Oates. Orioles notebook

"You don't judge him on 28 at-bats," said Oates. "There will be times this year when he'll go through dry spells, but you have to look at him over the whole season."

Baines jumped his average 107 points yesterday (from .143 to .250). "He had a lot of good swings," said Oates.

"We left him back [at the team's training complex] to take some extra hitting Thursday and he felt it helped him. He said he'd like one more day like that, so he'll stay back again Sunday [when the Orioles go to Port Charlotte to play the Rangers]."

Hammonds helpful, but will exit

The Orioles got five hits and three runs off right-hander Matt Whiteside in the seventh inning yesterday. Harold Reynolds drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly and Baines drove in Jeffrey Hammonds with a two-out single for the game-winner.

Although he continues to use the club's No. 1 draft choice of last year whenever he can, Oates said again yesterday that Hammonds soon would go to the minor-league complex.

"I just want to see him as much as possible, so when I make the phone call [for a promotion to the big leagues], I'll know what he's got,"said Oates. Hammonds singled in his only at-bat yesterday, then stole second base to set up the winning run.

Hammonds is a good bet to show up in Baltimore before the year is over -- possibly before the routine September call-ups.

Lefferts to open season?

It's possible the Orioles will face ex-teammate Craig Lefferts when they open the season against the Texas Rangers a week from Monday.

Kevin Brown had been designated as the Opening Day pitcher '' by Texas manager Kevin Kennedy, but the right-hander has missed his last two spring training starts because of a rib injury. He has pitched 12 innings this spring.

Lefferts, who shares the team lead in innings pitched (20) with Kenny Rogers, has been the Rangers' most effective starter. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and has allowed only 12 hits.

Kennedy will wait until Wednesday, Brown's next scheduled start, before making a decision. If Brown is scratched, Lefferts and Charlie Leibrandt, another left-hander, most likely would pitch the two games against the Orioles.

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