Valenzuela takes minor step ahead Solid Baysox outing sends him up to O's

April 23, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

It was not exactly Murderer's Row he faced, but for Fernando Valenzuela it was the perfect antidote after two straight poor outings.

Pitching for the Orioles' Double-A team, the Bowie Baysox, Valenzuela threw six strong innings against the overmatched Binghamton Mets last night at Memorial Stadium and restored ** some momentum to his major-league comeback.

The former Cy Young Award winner held the Mets to four hits and one run. Working on a 65-pitch limit, he needed 70 pitches to complete the six-inning stint. He struck out four, walked none and left with a 2-1 lead.

"I did what I wanted to do, get work in," said Valenzuela, who

didn't get the decision in the Baysox's 4-3 victory. "The main thing was that I didn't walk anybody. That's what I was most concerned about. Last time I had some control problems, but not tonight.

"I was happy with the way I pitched. I'm just trying to be ready for Chicago and pitch for the Orioles again. Tonight is what I have to do to be ready."

Valenzuela will next pitch on Monday, with three days' rest, against the White Sox. He won the role of fifth starter in the Orioles' rotation in spring training, but has pitched only twice for the team.

"My arm feels stronger," he said. "I don't think there'll be any problems with the three days' rest."

It was a significant outing for Valenzuela, who had been hit hard in his debut as an Orioles starter, against the Texas Rangers, and in a Triple-A game last week. Pitching for the Rochester Red Wings, he took the loss in a 3 1/3 -inning stint against the Richmond Braves last Saturday. He walked three and gave up six hits. He threw 67 pitches in that game, but only 35 strikes. Last night, in biting cold weather, 46 of his 70 pitches were for strikes.

Binghamton was just what the doctor ordered. The Mets were hitting a collective .197 with four homers in its first 10 games.

Valenzuela's roughest inning was the first, when he yielded an 0-2 double to leadoff hitter Ricky Otero. A two-out infield single by cleanup hitter Butch Huskey scored Otero with the only run off Valenzuela.

He needed only nine pitches to retire the Mets in the second inning, and had a 1-2-3 third with just seven pitches. He gave up ground singles in the fourth and sixth inings, but did not allow either runner to advance.

Valenzuela dressed at Camden Yards and was driven to Memorial Stadium two hours before game time. He appeared extremely relaxed before the game. He signed a dozen autographs in the Bowie dugout, and kidded with the young Baysox.

When Valenzuela grabbed a bat and took a few practice swings, one of the Baysox asked how many home runs he had hit in his National League career with the Dodgers.

L "Twenty-eight," Valenzuela deadpanned to immediate laughter.

L He actually has eight major-league homers and 72 career RBI.

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