After rough start, Wells recovers to get through a strong six innings

Orioles notebook

March 22, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- David Wells threw 83 pitches, the most by an Orioles pitcher this spring, in yesterday's 3-2 loss to Los Angeles. It was just his second appearance since missing a start due to a rapid heartbeat.

Wells improved greatly after a tough first inning in which he gave up a run on three hits. said. "About the second inning he started looking good. He was getting his breaking ball over better. He had better stuff today. He could probably go up to 100 pitches his next start."

Dobson said Wells' ability to throw his changeup for strikes and his command of his breaking ball were the biggest differences between yesterday's performance and Wells' 10-hit, four-home run effort on Sunday. It showed early, as Wells escaped the first inning yesterday by striking out Mike Busch with a changeup.

Manager Davey Johnson, who was Wells' skipper in Cincinnati last year, said the big left-hander is known for getting stronger each inning and each start.

"I thought David threw real good," Johnson said. "It was his second time going six innings and I was pleased with what he was able to do. He had a little trouble getting the ball over early, but that's not unusual for him. He felt really good. He'll have one more start before the regular season."

Orosco impressive, too

Jesse Orosco followed Wells' lead with a solid outing of his own.

Orosco worked a hitless eighth inning and struck out L.A.'s left-handed leadoff hitter Delino Deshields. Orosco came into the game with a 16.20 ERA, having yielded six runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings pitched.

That innings pitched total may be part of the reason for Orosco's spring slump. The Orioles have not faced many teams with left-handed batters in the lineup, so Orosco, a left-handed specialist, hasn't gotten much work.

"I don't think numbers are so important for myself. I'm looking for signs of progression," Orosco said. "I'm happy with what I was able to do today."

Orosco has been working on his breaking pitches with Dobson, and they appear to be making headway. Orosco said he is traditionally slow to hone breaking pitches in spring, and he has had to work even harder as the years pile up.

"I think about my age a lot in the off-season," said Orosco, who will turn 39 next month. "Some day I'm going to lose my fastball and I'll have to pick up a knuckleball or something like that. The off-season workouts get longer as I get older. . . . I took a step forward today."

Tickets are on the way

About 6,000 Orioles season-ticket holders have not yet received their tickets but "they should be coming any day," said.

The Orioles are experiencing a delay in mailing out tickets because of problems with the team-issued parking passes, Stetka said. Changes to some of the city-owned parking lots forced the Orioles to redo many of their passes.

Tarasco's arm improving

Tony Tarasco played right field for the second consecutive game yesterday, a sign that his sore right shoulder is improving.

The injury does not deter Tarasco's hitting, but it hinders his throwing. Tarasco did not have to make any throws yesterday but he relayed a ball from the warning track Wednesday that Roberto Alomar got home in time to throw out Florida's Greg Colbrunn.

"I felt something right after that throw, but I didn't feel any pain after the game," Tarasco said. "I could tell it was weak after that throw. But it's coming."

Johnson is making sure Tarasco does not push himself. Tarasco said he is increasing the length and velocity of his throws slowly to build up a strong foundation.

"Hopefully on Opening Day, it'll all be there," Tarasco said.

More Rhodes progress

Arthur Rhodes continues to sparkle with help from Dobson.

Rhodes works regularly on his follow through and his pickoff moves with the pitching coach and his two strong innings on Wednesday and 2.45 ERA are a testament to long hours spent throwing on the side in the bullpen. The starter turned reliever is coming off September shoulder surgery.

"I'm surprised at my progress to tell you the truth," Rhodes said. "I thought I would just be hitting the mound by now. I expected to be behind the other pitchers. I'm real pleased with my fastball this spring. I'm just working on my breaking ball and curve and then I'll be there. That's all I need."

Dobson is showing Rhodes some new moves to first base to keep runners honest and Rhodes also is learning to concentrate on the batter in the box and not the runners on base. The DTC adjustment from starter to reliever is his last bit of fine tuning.

"I have to learn to pace myself and be patient," Rhodes said. "Relievers have to get ready quicker. I'm working on it."

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