Frohwirth starts slowly in spring of uncertainty

February 27, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reliever Todd Frohwirth didn't throw particularly well yesterday, which wouldn't normally be cause for concern at this early stage of spring training. It is only noteworthy because Frohwirth is concerned about his future for the first time since he arrived in Baltimore.

Three straight seasons as one of the workhorses of the Orioles bullpen does not guarantee him anything in a camp that is heavy with potential relief candidates. He came to camp as a nonroster invitee after signing a minor-league contract, so he has no way of knowing where he'll be on Opening Day.

"I wouldn't say that's weighing on my mind," Frohwirth said yesterday, "but I don't think I've made the team. I'm going to have to work very hard to be here, but nothing weighs on my mind."

Give him credit for one thing. He has the situation in perspective. He is a guy who was not a highly touted prospect who has managed to stay in the major leagues long enough to make more than $1 million. He might be uncomfortable with the way things are, but he's not whining about it.

"I already feel fortunate to have played 4 1/2 years in the big leagues," he said. "That is more than anyone expected of me. I'm very thankful for that 4 1/2 years, but I'd still like to play a couple more."

To do that in Baltimore, he'll probably have to beat out veteran teammate Mark Williamson and surprising spring prospects Brian DuBois and Barry Manuel.

"I think I'll play somewhere," he said. "I'd just rather it be here because I believe we're going to win our division."

Baseball missionaries

Orioles utility man Tim Hulett and his 11-year-old son, Tug, traveled to the Dominican Republic in January to take part in a Christian sports missionary program.

"We put on baseball clinics and shared our faith," said Hulett, who went with a group called UPI -- Unlimited Potential International -- that delivers a Christian message through sports. "We put on clinics for as many as two, three and four hundred people."

Hulett took his son along on the nine-day trip so that he could see how people live in another culture. He said he hopes to take his second-oldest son Joe on a similar trip next winter.

"Tug loved it," Hulett said. "It was great for him. He was able to see how fortunate we are over here."

Mussina on mend

Right-hander Mike Mussina, whose 1993 season was interrupted by back and shoulder problems, has recovered from the general "creakiness" of early workouts and threw well Friday. He said yesterday that he is encouraged by the way he feels now.

"I felt good yesterday," he said. "I threw the ball hard the whole time out and I feel great today."

That's good news for the Orioles, who are banking heavily on a complete recovery. Mussina figures to be the Opening Day starter if he remains on schedule, though manager Johnny Oates has not made any announcement to that effect.

Williamson content

Right-hander Williamson will have to fight for one of the final places in the major-league bullpen, but he does not seem to be bothered by his status as a nonroster invitee.

"It's not unsettling at all," he said. "I'm just happy to be in camp. There are a few guys who are still out there."

Williamson is coming off a undistinguished 1993 season (7-5, 4.91), but he said that his arm strength has not diminished significantly from 1989 and '90, when he was one of the top middlemen in the business.

"Actually, I thought I threw the ball well last year," he said. "The numbers just stunk."

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