Rainouts complicate pitching decisions Dobson faces backlog of scheduled appearances

Orioles notebook

March 12, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Heavy rains continued to fall on Florida yesterday, canceling the Orioles' scheduled game with the Minnesota Twins and throwing another hurdle in front of Baltimore's pitching rotation.

With two straight rainouts disrupting several pitchers' normal preparations, pitching coach Pat Dobson has the difficult task of deciding who to allow to throw on the side, who needs rest and who should have their scheduled appearances pushed back.

Scott Erickson will start today against the Florida Marlins in Viera. Jimmy Myers, Mark Lee, Jesse Orosco and Armando Benitez were slated to work on Sunday in a game with the Braves that was canceled, and they too will work today. Pitchers Rick Krivda, Jim Dedrick and Jimmy Myers will be traveling to Viera with the team as well.

"Our strength is pitching," the manager said. "One of the areas where we have more depth in our system is our pitching."

Johnson said the rain hasn't been that damaging because the Birds have a split-squad double- Ericksonheader against the Mets on Wednesday and he can evaluate plenty of arms then.

"It's a pretty tough situation for the pitchers," Lee said. "We've got 25 pitchers here and it's difficult to get them all into games. Your whole schedule gets messed up. For me, it's not that bad, because there are times during the season when I might not pitch for a week or so. So I'm kind of used to it."

Mussina has no soreness

Starter Mike Mussina will throw off a mound today after spending Sunday and Monday tossing on the side for eight to 10 minutes. Mussina said his strained left stomach muscle feels much better and he has experienced no soreness after throwing.

"It feels great," Mussina said. "I'm going to heat it up [today]."

Mussina will throw from a mound again tomorrow and he could see action in a game as early as Thursday. Johnson said Mussina will be on a three-inning, 40-45 pitch maximum.

Gillick expects to deal soon

General manager Pat Gillick said he anticipates the Orioles will make at least one more deal before April 1 to fill their two biggest needs: a left-handed-hitting outfielder and a third catcher.

"I think before Opening Day we'll do something," Gillick said. "Outfield for sure. We're optimistic on both things. I wouldn't be disappointed if we had to start the season [with the current team], but I still think we can get better. We want to get better."

A Toronto Blue Jays scout has been following the Orioles for several days, and Baltimore has expressed an interest in Jays catcher Randy Knorr. Montreal's Tony Tarasco and Henry Rodriguez and Kansas City's Jon Nunnally, Tom Goodwin and Michael Tucker are all possibilities for the outfield spot.

The Orioles addressed these issues on Sunday in their first player-evaluation meeting. Johnson said they expect to have two or three more sessions before the season starts.

"I like what we have here," Johnson said. "The conversations were nothing new. Maybe a left-handed-hitting outfielder. Maybe a catcher. You'd like to have that depth in the system in case you have an injury. Is [catcher] B.J. Waszgis ready? Is [catcher] Cesar Devarez progressing?"

Roster cut to 44 players

The Orioles made their first series of roster reductions yesterday, trimming their roster to 44 players by sending seven players to the minor leagues and releasing one -- and no, Waszgis is not ready just yet.

Johnson said he expects to repeat the trimming process two more times to set his 25-man roster, with most of the moves made before March 17, when minor league spring games commence. By that time the Orioles starters will be pitching longer into games, which further alleviates the need to have a plethora of relievers on standby.

Relief pitcher Mike Hartley, a non-roster invitee, was released. Hartley made one relief appearance with Baltimore last year, pitching two innings.

"We didn't feel like it would be fair to him to keep him in camp if it looked like he wouldn't make my club," Johnson said. "If we would have held him until the end of camp [then cut him], it would have hurt his chances of catching on with another club."

Waszgis and pitchers Aaron Lane and Garrett Stephenson were optioned to Rochester. Infielder Juan Bautista, third baseman Willis Otanez and pitcher Calvin Maduro were sent to Bowie. Johnson met individually with each player to tell him what he needs to work on.

Waszgis left for Triple-A to improve his receiving, but did receive some encouragement.

"It was a great experience," Waszgis said of his first major league camp. "I got great exposure to the coaching staff. When I started catching in this organization three years ago, they said I couldn't move, I couldn't block, I couldn't call a game. My conversation with Davey was enlightening. It delighted me that he only pointed out a minor thing about my receiving. I need to concentrate a little better. A catcher needs to be able to catch."

Miscellaneous

Johnson said he expects outfielder Mike Devereaux and Devarez to play today. Devereaux has a nagging hamstring injury and Devarez has yet to audition behind the plate. . . . Johnson is looking into the possibility of adding a B game on March 18 against Montreal to compensate for the rainouts. . . . Manny Alexander said Johnson has OK'd the infielder's trip to the Dominican Republic on March 18 to attend to family business. Alexander expects to return to camp in time for the March 20 game against Florida. The Orioles do not play on March 19.

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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