Oates isn't expecting to be dealt new starter

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

March 13, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Johnny Oates said yesterday that he is operating as though the Orioles will not add a pitcher before Opening Day.

"Right now I can't anticipate anything," said Oates. "I'm going on the assumption that we'll play the club we have. And hopefully things will get better when we start to get the guys who will be here out there on a regular basis."

During the off-season Oates had expressed a desire to add another veteran starting pitcher, even after the signing of free agent Sid Fernandez. Even after spring training began, there was speculation that the Orioles might make a deal for an extra starter.

But trade talks have been slow to date, assistant general manager Frank Robinson said. "We haven't had much contact [with other teams]," he said.

"I think when we get back [to St. Petersburg after the three-day trip that concluded yesterday] we'll start making some calls again," said Robinson. "Teams should be getting to the point now where they have a feel for what they might want to do."

Meanwhile the Orioles are nearing the time when they'll have to make decisions on first baseman David Segui and third baseman Leo Gomez. Both have expected trades since the Orioles signed free agents Rafael Palmeiro and Chris Sabo.

The Orioles almost will certainly deal Gomez, but Segui's situation is not as certain. Because he's also able to play the outfield and is a switch-hitter, Segui's versatility could keep him with the Orioles.

If they do attempt to make a deal for another starter, it is likely the Orioles will lower their target sights. Andy Benes and Pete Harnisch were mentioned during the off-season, but if a trade is made it more likely would be someone in the category of Minnesota's Kevin Tapani.

Fernandez behind schedule

Fernandez, who made his spring debut with the Orioles on Thursday night against the Yankees, figures to be slightly behind the rest of the starters when spring training ends. But the difference doesn't figure to be significant.

The left-hander reported no problems after pitching two innings, and Oates said he will make four more appearances during the exhibition season. "The most he'll be able to go in one game is six innings," said Oates. "The others will probably go seven."

Pitching coach Dick Bosman estimates that Fernandez will be no more than two innings behind the rest of the rotation.

Mills starts vs. Phillies

Alan Mills makes his third appearance, and start, of the spring against the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon in St. Petersburg. Left-hander Danny Jackson will pitch for the defending National League champions.

Arthur Rhodes will face the Cincinnati Reds tomorrow night, with Mike Mussina and Fernandez going against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

Lonnie Smith makes case

Lonnie Smith appears to be assuring himself of a job on the Orioles' roster. The veteran outfielder hit his first home run of the spring yesterday, giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

Smith is hitting .429 (6-for-14) with three extra base hits in seven games.

Hits and misses

For the eighth time in 10 games, the Orioles' hit total reached double figures yesterday. They had 11 in the 5-4 loss to the Marlins.

On the flip side, however, the Orioles made four errors, none of which figured in the scoring.

Doubling up

Mark McLemore has collected two hits in each of the last three games. Damon Buford and Segui also had two hits, giving Orioles hitters a total of 29 multi-hit games.

The two hits by Buford raised the center fielder's average to .357 (10-for-28). He has more at-bats than any other player on the team.

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 1:05 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

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