Out of rhythm, Wells gets early hook Left-hander yields 4 runs in 3 innings vs. Indians

Orioles notebook

March 26, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson didn't like what he was seeing and the Cleveland Indians liked it just fine, which was enough to convince Johnson to pull left-hander David Wells halfway through his scheduled start yesterday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Wells gave up four runs on six hits over three innings on the way to his third loss in five spring decisions. The Orioles rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, but came up short in a 4-3 loss to the defending American League champions.

"He just had a lot of trouble with his rhythm," Johnson said. "He was all messed up, so I didn't want to push him. We just decided to pull him and give somebody else a chance."

Johnson said that Wells has been bothered by some soreness outside his pitching elbow, but indicated that wasn't the cause of his inconsistent performance yesterday. Wells had pitched well in his previous start, going six innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Left-hander Rick Krivda took over and pitched two innings of one-hit relief and four other relievers worked a scoreless inning .. apiece.

Decision day?

It wouldn't normally be a major issue, but in an Orioles training camp with few roster questions, the fate of the bubble guys has taken on added significance.

For that reason, today is an important day for infielder Jeff Huson, who will be guaranteed his full 1996 salary if he remains on the roster past midnight.

The Orioles are expected to keep him, which means that someone else will have to step aside by Opening Day.

Shortstop Manny Alexander is out of options and might be traded, or outfielder Mark Smith could be optioned back to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

Weaver stops by

Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver was back in camp, sparring with Jim Palmer and taking advantage of the opportunity to hook up with some of the ex-Orioles that now play and coach for the Indians.

Dennis Martinez spotted him first, and after making the usual pleasantries, hailed Palmer from across the field to join them, but Weaver wasted no time getting back into character.

"If I knew he was coming, I wouldn't have come," Weaver said.

After a friendly exchange with Palmer, Weaver was asked if he had read "Together We Were 11-foot-9," the new book that Palmer recently authored about their stormy relationship.

"I haven't read it yet," Weaver said, "but I'm sure it's full of lies."

Florence, Munoz reassigned

Pitcher Oscar Munoz accepted an outright assignment to the Red Wings' roster yesterday and nonroster left-hander Don Florence was reassigned to the Orioles' minor-league camp in Sarasota.

Munoz, who was claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Twins in November, was out of options and could have chosen free agency, but he decided to remain in the organization and wait for a midseason call-up. He was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in six exhibition appearances.

Florence made six exhibition appearances for the major-league club and pitched six innings of relief, giving up seven hits and two earned runs.

Devereaux encouraged

Outfielder Mike Devereaux, who has been struggling to overcome a hamstring strain, is encouraged by the progress he has made during the past week.

He played in his third straight game yesterday and again reported no problems.

"I felt good the first day, but the important thing to me was how I felt coming back the second day, and it felt better," Devereaux said.

The important thing is for Devereaux to be up to speed on Opening Day, which now seems likely. Before he played those three straight days, he had barely half the at-bats of the healthy Orioles regulars.

S. Alomar cramps up

Indians catcher Sandy Alomar had to be removed from yesterday's game with a cramp in his right hamstring.

Club officials said they will know better today the extent of the injury.

Ups and downs

Highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians yesterday:

Ups

Left-hander Rick Krivda pitched two innings of one-hit relief after taking over for struggling starter David Wells. He has given up just two earned runs in 13 innings (1.38 ERA).

Left-hander Jesse Orosco continues to rebound from a rocky start this spring. He pitched one scoreless inning and struck out two.

Jeffrey Hammonds continues to swing a hot bat. He delivered a pinch single in the ninth inning, raising his spring average to .417.

Utility man Bill Ripken doubled home two runs in the three-run ninth inning. Ripken is batting .353 (12-for-34) this spring.

Downs

Left-hander David Wells lasted just three innings and surrendered four runs on six hits to record his third loss in five spring decisions.

The Orioles had just three hits through the first eight innings against veteran Orel Hershiser and three Indians middle relievers. They finally broke through with three runs on four hits against former Oriole Jose Mesa in the ninth, but the rally fell short.

Third out:

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