What a relief: No boos for bullpen so far Dobson's spring confidence proving to be warranted

ORIOLES Notebook

April 07, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Orioles fans booed at Camden Yards last year, their angst usually was generated by the performance of the bullpen. Either Doug Jones was hearing catcalls or ex-manager Phil Regan was being booed for bringing in Jones.

But the Orioles' bullpen cannot be faulted for anything in the first five games this season. Nothing. Even the run that Jimmy Myers allowed in his three innings last night was unearned. It's the only run the bullpen has allowed in 14 innings. , Jones' replacement as the closer, is 3-for-3 in converting save chances.

Halfway through spring training, when pitching coach Pat Dobson was answering a lot of questions about whether Myers could bounce back from a poor second half in '95, he said, "I really like the way the bullpen is coming together."

His assessment looks to be right on target. "It's solid," Dobson said. "We've got guys with a lot of different styles. We've got a guy who throws hard in Armando Benitez, a couple of sinkerballers in Roger McDowell and [Jimmy] Myers, a left-hander who throws hard [Arthur Rhodes] and one who throws breaking stuff [Jesse Orosco]."

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone agrees. "They're good individually," he said, "but they're better collectively, because they complement each other."

Randy Myers is the critical piece, naturally, and he had pitched extremely well in the first four games, earning three saves and needing only 37 pitches to throw throw those three innings.

"Anytime you've got a guy like Randy out there," said Dobson, "it gives the rest of them a little more confidence, because you know he's going to come in and pick up the pieces."

Of the nine outs Myers has recorded, five have been by strikeout. He struck out the side Friday night, completing the Orioles' 2-1 win over the Twins. (Benitez did the same thing in last night's loss.) His 5.61 ERA in the second half of last year is beginning to look like an aberration. At the time they signed Myers, Orioles executives wondered if he threw too many innings for the Chicago Cubs in 1996. Dobson wonders if Myers simply lost his incentive, as Chicago faded in the race.

No matter. Dobson, an advance scout for the Colorado Rockies last season, says Myers is back throwing 93-94 mph, rather than the 90-91 he was throwing at the end of 1996.

Myers hasn't been afraid of using his other pitches, either. At the end of Friday's game, two outs in the ninth inning, Dave Hollins pinch-hit for the Twins. Myers fell behind 3-0, then came back with two fastballs for strikes to make the count full.

Catcher Gregg Zaun called a pitch, Myers reared back and fired . . . a changeup, right over the middle of the plate. Hollins didn't move.

"[Myers] didn't shake me off," Zaun said. "He told me later, 'I was right there with you.' "

Dobson said: "The beauty of that was that Myers didn't shake him off. Hollins is up there thinking fastball or slider, and the last thing on his mind was a changeup."

Ring out the old

The World Series champion Atlanta Braves received their rings last week. Most of them, anyway. Kent Mercker and Mike Devereaux, current Orioles who played for the Braves last year, haven't gotten theirs and aren't sure when they will.

But whenever Devereaux does, he intends to wear his. Devereaux received one for playing with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, and he wears that one now, but as soon as he gets the ring from the Braves, he's putting his Dodgers ring away. "I'm not going to wear two of them," Devereaux said.

Surhoff: Just in case

B. J. Surhoff hasn't been removed for a defensive replacement in the late innings because he's proving to be solid defensively.

Another reason, however, is that Surhoff may be needed as an emergency catcher; Zaun, the No. 2 catcher, replaced Chris Hoiles at the end of the Orioles' first four games of the year. Zaun started last night.

Around the horn

About 30 minutes after Friday night's victory over the Twins, Brady Anderson returned to the Metrodome outfield for a series of sprints. Anderson is one of the few Orioles off to a slow start, hitting .190 (4-for-21), with no walks and five strikeouts. . . . Just as there was before Friday's game, there was a strong turnout for early batting practice yesterday, with Rafael Palmeiro joining many of the extra players for extra swings. . . . Palmeiro, who was 4-for-5 against Brad Radke last year, went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. . . . Orioles GM Pat Gillick will be the guest on the Press Box sports news show on Home Team Sports, 11: 30 p.m. tomorrow. . . . The 1966 Orioles had the best start in club history, winning 12 of the first 13 games of the year. But that team lost its third game of the year. . . . Left-hander David Wells will start against Cleveland's Jack McDowell Tuesday, and Scott Erickson will pitch against the Indians' Orel Hershiser Wednesday.

Pub Date: 4/07/96

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