3-0 Johnson counts his blessings Palmeiro, Wells pace 4-1 win over Yankees

Orioles notebook

March 05, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. -- The regular season is a month away, and Kent Mercker and Randy Myers, two pitchers critical to the Orioles' hopes, haven't pitched in a game yet. But so far so good for the Orioles, still perfect in the exhibition season.

Rafael Palmeiro hit a two-run homer and David Wells pitched three shutout innings as the Orioles beat the New York Yankees, 4-1, last night.

"It's always good to play well," manager Davey Johnson said. "That's always the object, to play better than the other guys. We played well."

Wells didn't walk a hitter in the first three innings, meaning that in the first 21 innings of spring training, the Orioles' staff has allowed just one base on balls.

Injury bug buzzes by O's

The Philadelphia Phillies have lost Tyler Green for the season to a shoulder injury, the Colorado Rockies may be without Bret Saberhagen most of the year, Yankees New York left-hander Kenny Rogers suffered a temporary setback when he was hit by a line drive.

Seems like every team in baseball has at least one or two guys banged up or suffering from major soreness.

Except the Orioles.

Roger McDowell had a little ache in his shoulder, pain he pitched through. Mike Mussina was hit on the shin by a line drive Saturday, and yesterday he didn't even have a bandage on. A seamless spring training, as far as injuries are concerned.

"Knock on wood," said Johnson. "Let's hope it stays that way."

Keeping a lookout

Before last night's game, Johnson met with several Orioles scouts being dispersed to watch AL East teams, and gave them an idea of the kind of information he'll want in their reports. . . . Assistant general manager Kevin Malone acknowledged Orioles officials have discussed the Orioles have talked internally about Oakland third baseman Craig Paquette, but said those who've seen him aren't very high on his abilities; it's unlikely the Orioles will make a deal. . . . Malone said the team is The O's, Malone said, are looking at all players who are out of options and may be dumped by their respective teams.

Big at the plate, times two

Calvin Pickering is an interesting prospect for the Orioles. A 19-year-old power-hitting first baseman, Pickering was selected in the 35th round of last June's draft and batted the draft last June, Pickering batted .500 in 15 games of rookie ball for Gulf Coast, collecting 30 hits in 60 at-bats. He had 10 doubles and a homer.

But there was a catch: Pickering finished the season at 311 pounds. Farm director Syd Thrift was happy to see Pickering report to camp at about 290 this spring, meaning he's halfway to his target weight of 270 pounds. "We're talking about a big man," Thrift said, "with big arms and big thighs. But he's an intriguing player. . . . He's just got to manage his diet and play ball."

Streaking to Series?

Cal Ripken met with members of the New York media before last night's game, and the first three questions he fielded were about the Orioles' improvement in the off-season, or Roberto Alomar. A welcome change for Ripken, who usually hears dozens of questions about his consecutive-games streak.

"The focus is on the team," Ripken said, "and it should be on the team. . . . It's very refreshing to talk about that."

Somebody asked Ripken if he'd prefer to follow up on his record-breaking season with a win in the World Series. "If I was writing the script," Ripken said, "I would write it that way."

As Ripken talked, Bobby Bonilla saw the gathering of reporters. "The Streak is over," Bonilla said, meaning Ripken owned the record. "Get over it! New York, get over it! Lou [Gehrig] is gone! That's a new man in town! His name is Cal!"

Around the horn

Johnson has been pleased with the defensive play of B. J. Surhoff at third. "I'm looking at different possibilities," Johnson said. "My best defensive lineup, my best offensive lineup, my best overall lineup. From what [Surhoff] has showed me, he'd probably be in all three of those." . . . Arthur Rhodes, Alan Mills, McDowell and Myers will pitch in a "B" squad game against the St. Louis Cardinals today. Mercker will start the "A" game, followed by relievers Brian Sackinsky, Jimmy Myers and Jim Dedrick. "After tomorrow," pitching coach Pat Dobson said, "everybody will have pitched at least once."

Ups and downs

Highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' exhibition against the Yankees last night:

Ups

Rafael Palmeiro hit his second homer in two days, a two-run shot off Yankees left-hander Kenny Rogers.

For the second time in two days, Roberto Alomar cut down a runner on the bases while relaying a throw from the outfield. He threw out Ruben Sierra easily when Sierra tried to stretch a double into a triple.

David Wells threw three shutout innings, striking out three.

Chris Hoiles had an RBI single in the second inning.

The Orioles didn't allow a walk in the first six innings, meaning they allowed just one in the first 24 innings of the spring.

The pitching staff has allowed three runs in three games.

Downs

Bobby Bonilla went hitless in his first three at-bats, hitting into a double play.

New York starter Rogers yielded three runs was bombed, allowing three runs in three innings.

Hoiles hit into two double plays.

Pub Date: 3/05/96

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