ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If everything goes according to plan, Sid Fernandez will make his first start for the Orioles against the Rangers in Texas on April 17.
That's the timetable manager Johnny Oates has laid out after Fernandez was examined yesterday and given clearance to resume throwing.
"He'll start throwing tomorrow [today], then pitch off a mound RTC and start building himself up," Oates said. "He'll throw batting practice twice, pitch two games in the minor leagues on rehab and start April 17."
If Fernandez needs extra time, Oates said his first appearance could be moved to April 23, against Seattle in Baltimore. The left-hander has pitched 2 2/3 innings this spring, having been sidelined by tendinitis, then by bursitis.
He was examined by the club's orthopedist, Michael Jacobs, at the team's training complex here yesterday while the Orioles were beating the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3, in an exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium.
"The inflammation has gone down dramatically, and the bursitis appears to have remedied itself," Jacobs said in a statement released by the club. "He has vigorously followed and done well with the strengthening program he was given, and he'll be monitored on a regimented rehab throwing program."
"He's been champing at the bit," Oates said of Fernandez. "He's wanted to throw a baseball for the last week and a half."
McDonald on track
Ben McDonald gave further evidence yesterday that he's ready to start the season. The right-hander gave up five hits and one run and struck out five in six innings in yesterday's win over the Cardinals.
"I've still got a way to go, but for now, after five starts, I think I'm in good shape," said McDonald, who had two singles in as many at-bats.
"I could go out and pitch right now and get people out," McDonald said. "But I've still got some things I need to work on. My slider's not there yet. It's coming, but it's not there, and I have to work on my fastball away to both right-handed and left-handed hitters."
McDonald has given up six earned runs in 22 1/3 innings (2.42 ERA). He threw 78 pitches yesterday and is scheduled to throw about 90 in his final tuneup, Friday in Atlanta. He is scheduled to pitch the Orioles' second game of the season, a week from Wednesday night, against Kansas City at Camden Yards.
Hammonds takes a hit
The Orioles got a scare yesterday when Jeffrey Hammonds was hit on his left wrist by a pitch from Rene Arocha. He left the game and later wore a splint as a precautionary measure.
Hammonds will be X-rayed today. The injury was diagnosed as a bruised wrist and was treated with ice.
More Camden Yards seats
Joe Foss, Orioles' vice president of business and finance, said yesterday that the club has taken the first step toward increasing seating capacity at Camden Yards.
"We have formally asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to examine the possibility of expanding the park," Foss said. "We've also contacted HOK [the park's designer]."
The Orioles have added 183 seats in right-center field. There are plans to build a children's pavilion in left-center field that will accommodate 1,250 to 1,500 -- tickets that will be given to youngsters.
He said an additional 4,000 to 5,000 seats, including those in the children's pavilion, may be added.
If you're keeping score . . .
Jim Poole pitched a scoreless inning and Mark Eichhorn pitched the last two innings, giving up two unearned runs in the ninth inning after a throwing error by Rene Gonzales. The error was the sixth for Gonzales, who has played mostly as a replacement for Cal Ripken at shortstop.
Besides McDonald, Tim Hulett was the only other Oriole to get two hits. Rafael Palmeiro drove in two runs, both on infield grounders.
Jamie Moyer is scheduled to pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays today.
Yesterday's win put the Orioles above .500 (13-12) for the first time this spring. They have won four in a row and 11 of their past 14.
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Site: Dunedin, Fla.
Time: 1:35 p.m.