Fernandez due to start next Sunday

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 10, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Left-hander Sid Fernandez continues to progress rapidly in his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder and remains on track to make his Orioles regular-season debut next Sunday.

Fernandez threw for 20 minutes before yesterday's game and reported no problems. He'll accompany the Orioles on this week's road trip, but will make an appearance for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings or Double-A Bowie Baysox before joining the major-league rotation.

"He had things moving pretty good," manager Johnny Oates said. "He threw 20 minutes of good stuff."

The club probably will decide today whether Fernandez will go to Scranton, Pa., to pitch for the Red Wings or Frederick to join Baysox. Either way, if all goes well, he'll rejoin the Orioles the next day in Detroit and make his first start against the Texas Rangers at the new Ballpark in Arlington.

"Sid told us all along that it wasn't going to take as long as we thought," Oates said. "Boz [Dick Bosman, pitching coach] said that he felt great this morning."

Fernandez will be carefully monitored in his minor-league start. He likely will go on a 75-pitch limit and then move to 90 or 95 against the Rangers.

Smith 3-for-3

Closer Lee Smith is perfect in three save opportunities, exceeding even his own expectations.

"I'm usually a guy who gets it going in the second half or late in the first half," he said. "Hopefully, I won't burn out before I get there, but my arm strength is starting to get there."

Smith retired the Rangers in order in the ninth inning yesterday. He has needed just 25 pitches to record a save in each of the Orioles' three victories. He also needed one great defensive play by second baseman Mark McLemore to make yesterday's look easy.

"If McLemore holds up, I'll be OK," Smith said.

Smith has returned a sinker to his pitching repertoire, which means the Orioles' infielders are going to get some extra work in the late innings.

"It's not the first time I've used one," he said, "but it has been awhile. I guess I'm going to see who the best shortstop in the game is -- Cal [Ripken] or Ozzie [Smith]."

Still up there

Right-hander Mike Mussina came into yesterday's game with the fourth-best opposition batting average in the American League at .080. He gave up five hits in five innings to raise it to .156, but that is still good enough to remain among the league leaders.

Homer streak goes on

The Orioles set a club record Friday night when they hit at least two home runs for the third straight game at the start of a season. They added to that mark yesterday when Chris Hoiles hit their second homer of the game in the sixth inning.

Bonus home run stats:

* The six home runs in the first three games produced a total of six runs. The home runs by Mike Devereaux and Hoiles yesterday brought home five.

* Devereaux's home run temporarily made him the all-time leader at Camden Yards with 25. He passed Hoiles to earn that distinction, but Hoiles homered later to draw back even.

Attendance up

The crowd of 47,225 that packed Camden Yards yesterday was the third-largest paid crowd in the ballpark's brief but sellout-strewn history. The three largest paid totals have come in the first four games this season, reflecting the modestly increased capacity of the ballpark and a drop in the number of complimentary tickets.

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