Lonnie Smith assured of being in swing

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

March 29, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Orioles removed what little doubt Lonnie Smith had about his status by purchasing the veteran's contract from Triple-A Rochester yesterday.

Smith, 38, will open the season as the oldest player on the Orioles' 25-man roster and will be used primarily as a designated hitter against left-handed pitching and as a pinch hitter and pinch runner.

"I was confident in myself, but I wasn't completely confident in making the club," said Smith, whose spring average dropped from .324 to .286 in an 0-for-5 outing yesterday. "They had a number of decisions to make from among several quality people."

Orioles manager Johnny Oates said Smith "came in here and did what I thought he would do all along."

Smith's addition to the roster leaves Oates with five leading candidates -- catchers Jeff Tackett and Rich Gedman, outfielder Damon Buford, and infielders Leo Gomez and Rene Gonzales -- competing for three spots on the bench.

Gedman would give the Orioles a left-handed bat on the bench, but Oates said that is not a necessity.

"Not with this lineup," Oates said. "And it depends on who the left-handed hitter is. If it's Ted Williams, I imagine you would want him on your bench."

Frohwirth to Red Sox

Eight days after being released by the Orioles, Todd Frohwirth signed a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox yesterday.

"About eight clubs expressed varying degrees of interest," said Adam Katz, Frohwirth's agent. "This was the best opportunity to have the best role in the big leagues. There are no guarantees. He's got to go in and pitch well. If he does that, he has a legitimate chance to head north with the club."

Moyer impressive

Left-hander Jamie Moyer, the winningest pitcher in the organization last season with 12 wins for Baltimore and six for Rochester, was in 1993 form yesterday, earning the decision in a 6-4 victory over Toronto.

Moyer pitched seven innings and allowed one run on one walk and six hits. He struck out four.

Moyer credited a breakthrough in his previous start for his success.

"The last three innings of the Chicago [White Sox] game, something clicked for me and I carried it into today," Moyer said.

Other highlights: Mike Devereaux went 4-for-4 and scored a run; Cal Ripken singled in two runs and has a team-high 15 RBIs.

Gomez plays first

Gomez, a third baseman who had limited experience at first base in winter ball and in spring training when Frank Robinson managed the Orioles, played first in the late innings yesterday.

"As long as I play, I don't care where they put me," Gomez said. "This is good for me. If someone wants to trade for me, now I can prove I can play third and first."

Poole unshaken

Jim Poole's spirits remain high despite an 8.71 Grapefruit League ERA. "I don't know if anyone remembers, but I gave up three home runs to end spring training last year," Poole said. "This is my sixth spring training and I haven't had a good one yet."

Hammonds healthy

X-rays taken on Jeffrey Hammonds' left wrist were negative. Hammonds, hit Sunday by a pitch from Rene Arocha, was available to play yesterday but was not used.

Fernandez on the mound today

Left-hander Sid Fernandez, who will open the season on the 15-day disabled list, will throw from a mound today for the first time since being forced from a game March 15 by a sore shoulder.

"There is not anything seriously wrong here," pitching coach Dick Bosman said.

Fernandez will throw from the mound for at least 10 minutes, Bosman said.

Fernandez tentatively is scheduled for activation April 17, the first date the Orioles need a fifth starter.

Fernandez played catch yesterday for the first time since the flare-up.

Jays' Carter takes BP

Toronto right fielder Joe Carter took batting practice yesterday for the first since breaking his thumb five days earlier. He hit eight balls over the left-field fence.

"My hand hurts a little, but that's just from being off and from holding the bat differently," Carter said. "Throwing is something I'll have to look at, but Joe Carter will be out there Opening Day and it will be in right field."

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he has not made a decision on Carter's Opening Day status.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies

Site: Clearwater, Fla.

Time: 7:35

TV/Radio: None

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