McDonald faces boyhood idol in Ryan

Orioles notebook

April 14, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Right-hander Ben McDonald hopes to realize a lifelong dream tonight when he is scheduled to take the mound against boyhood idol Nolan Ryan in the finale of the three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium.

"I'm glad it's finally going to happen," McDonald said yesterday. "I was hoping to get a chance to pitch against him before he retires."

The only thing that might stand in his way is the weather. Last night's game was threatened by rain. If tonight's game is postponed, it would be played tomorrow night, but the pitching matchup probably wouldn't change.

McDonald is coming off a difficult outing against the Seattle Mariners, but he is looking forward to the opportunity to bounce back against a legend.

"I've been following him forever," McDonald said. "I saw my first major-league ballgame when I was about 12. We drove to Houston to see Nolan pitching against Pete Rose and the Phillies. I loved how hard he threw. I got to sit down low because me and my friends snuck down. The sound of the ball as it hit the glove echoed all through the Astrodome."

That wasn't the only reason that McDonald tried to fashion himself after the Express. He also liked Ryan's down-home manner and squeaky clean image. That is something he is trying to duplicate in his own career.

"Everything I've ever heard about him was good," McDonald said. "I've never heard or read anything bad about him. I'd like to be like that. That's what being a role model is all about."

The matchup may be a special occasion for McDonald, but that doesn't mean he will be satisfied just to alternate trips to the mound with his boyhood hero.

"Everybody I pitch against, I want to beat," he said.

Williamson upbeat

Right-hander Mark Williamson gave up the game-losing hit in Sunday's extra-inning loss to the Mariners, but he has every reason to look back on that outing as a positive one.

Williamson, who underwent arm surgery a year ago, came back on one day's rest after pitching 4 2/3 innings in Friday night's loss at the Kingdome. He pitched 1 2/3 innings and -- by all accounts -- threw the ball very well.

"I went 4 2/3 innings and went back out there two days later and felt fine," he said. "I had things pretty much going at the end of last year and throughout the off-season, then the last outing of preseason, I felt like my arm was strong again and my velocity was back.

"My mechanics are solid, so I'm not putting unnecessary stress on my arm. That's probably why the velocity is better. Now it's a matter of pitching a little better."

Bring Ryan to Baltimore

Should Ryan be on the American League All-Star team this year regardless of his first-half statistics? Orioles manager Johnny Oates didn't hesitate to answer yes.

"If he doesn't win a game, if Nolan wants to go, I don't care if they have to carry 30 players a team, he should be there," Oates said. "Baseball fans deserve to see him."

No 11th pitcher necessary

Oates was toying with the idea of bringing up an 11th pitcher, but he got enough innings from Mike Mussina Monday night to rest his bullpen and make a move unnecessary.

Reynolds overanxious

Second baseman Harold Reynolds finally got on the board with a couple of hits Monday night after struggling in his first four starts. Oates said he probably was trying too hard to get off to a good start.

"He's been hitting too many balls in the air," Oates said. "I think he has been overanxious, which is natural when you're coming into a new situation."

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