Bonilla won't play the expectations game Team's 1996 prospects 'just as good as anybody'

Orioles notebook

February 16, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Outfielder Bobby Bonilla doesn't have to be here, but he arrived at the Orioles' training camp yesterday, more than a week ahead of schedule, after spending much of his off-season playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.

Is this guy fired up about 1996, or what?

"I'm excited every baseball season," said Bonilla, who -- entering his first full year as an Oriole -- is one of the reasons expectations in Baltimore are at a 13-year high.

Bonilla is trying not to get caught up in that. He has been on teams that were expected to do well and fulfilled those expectations. He also has been on a New York Mets dream team that turned into a nightmare.

"I've been through all that," he said. "I know that you've got to play. I think it will be more exciting when we get out there and start. We've got a good shot, just as good as anybody."

The Orioles will begin light workouts today. The first full workout of pitchers and catchers is tomorrow. Club officials spent

yesterday in a day-long staff meeting, preparing the six-week regimen that they hope will get the team ready for a successful season.

Vote of confidence

Backup catcher Greg Zaun had to wonder where he would fit into the club's plans this year, so he has to be encouraged that general manager Pat Gillick did not make the acquisition of another catcher an off-season priority. But he isn't taking anything for granted.

"I didn't pay attention too much," Zaun said. "I'm not at the point in my career where I can assume anything. I come to camp to battle for a job. If I do well, I'll get a job. If I don't, then I have to %% go back and try again. But it does make you feel better to know they feel positive about you."

Other early arrivals

There was no official workout yesterday, but most of the veteran pitchers were in camp and several worked out lightly. Mike Mussina, Kent Mercker, David Wells and Scott Erickson showed up, along with relievers Roger McDowell, Mark Lee and Alan Mills.

Mills did not dress. He came to camp to meet with the training staff and plan his spring rehabilitation program. He apparently is making good progress in his recovery from shoulder surgery, though he isn't ready to make any predictions about his prospects for Opening Day.

Trick or treat

Mussina was catching up on some off-season fan mail when he came upon a party invitation from Vice President and Mrs. Al Gore. The letter was dated early last October, and requested the pleasure of Mussina's company at the Gores' Halloween costume party.

E9 "I would have gone as a tax exemption," Mussina said.

First cut

Rochester Red Wings outfielder Rod Robertson was given his unconditional release yesterday after he suffered an off-season knee injury and failed a pre-training camp physical.

Robertson, according to club officials, suffered the knee injury while working at a second job. He had been invited to major-league camp but was released after the club reviewed results of his magnetic resonance imaging test and determined that surgery would be necessary to correct two tears.

In other news yesterday, outfielder Sherman Obando agreed to terms. He'll earn $160,000 if he makes the major-league team.

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