Pitchers help hold cards in run on Hoiles Catcher's limited throws don't make up lost ground

Orioles Notebook

April 24, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Catcher Chris Hoiles is throwing about the same as he was at the end of spring training. Quick release, good accuracy, little velocity on his throw.

There have been many games this season when his weak arm has not been an issue. But the Cleveland Indians ran fearlessly in the first game of this series, swiping five bases. Four of those could've been attributed to the pitcher's slow delivery -- Jesse Orosco, with his high leg kick, was responsible for two in the eighth inning.

Manager Davey Johnson has come to grips with the fact this is the way it'll be all year: If the pitcher holds the runner well, Hoiles has a chance to throw out a runner. If the pitcher doesn't, Hoiles doesn't have a shot, lacking the arm strength to make up for a pitcher's deficiency.

"He's never been a great thrower," Johnson said. "I know he's got a quick release and he's thrown out a few guys."

The trade-off, of course, is that Hoiles could compensate for his lack of arm strength with his bat. Hoiles started very poorly, but his batting average is rising gradually, from .100 to .175. "We need to get him going," said Johnson. "Bobby [Bonilla] and him, we need to get them going."

Rhodes moves grudgingly

When the Orioles asked Arthur Rhodes to move from the starting rotation to the bullpen last year, he wasn't comfortable, didn't like the change.

Now, for at least the next two rounds in the rotation, Rhodes is back to being a starter, tomorrow against Kansas City and a week from today against the New York Yankees -- and again, Rhodes isn't entirely at ease with the change. He's grown to enjoy pitching out of the bullpen.

"It's going to be tough starting again," Rhodes said. "I've been throwing the ball pretty well down there, and I've learned how to pitch out of the bullpen. But, I've got to go with the flow."

Warming up to pitch out of the bullpen is completely different than warming up for a start, and Rhodes went through an adjustment period last year as he attempted to reduce the time he required. When he first moved to the bullpen, Rhodes said, it would take him about 15 minutes to get ready.

"When they called me the other night [Monday], I only needed about one hitter [batting for Cleveland] to get ready," he said. "I like it more than I did last year."

Rhodes, coming back from shoulder surgery, doesn't feel as if he's throwing as hard as he once did. "My shoulder is getting there -- it's about 95 percent now," Rhodes said. "I'm going to get stronger, but everything is feeling great now. Everything is feeling healthy and strong.

"I'm not going to throw 99 mph. I'll stay at about 90 and concentrate on my location. I'm hitting my spots, when I want to. I'm throwing the ball in the strike zone and letting them get themselves out."

Snow daze

Bill Ripken came into the clubhouse, from the field, about two hours before last night's game, his face flushed red. "It's snowing out there," he said. "It's not mixed, it's not sleet, it's snowing."

Yes, it was snowing hard, after it rained and then turned to sleet. The Orioles dreaded playing in such a cold climate (40 degrees, with a 16-degree wind-chill factor when the game started, after the snow stopped).

"You'll need a snowplow and stuff out there tonight," said bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks.

Small step for Orosco

Orosco allowed a run in two-thirds of an inning Monday, lowering his ERA to 25.07. However, two scouts and pitching coach Pat Dobson all thought Orosco was throwing a good breaking ball and a good fastball -- "His best stuff of the year," Dobson said.

Orosco said: "I'm just trying to get it all back together. I want them [Dobson and Johnson] to be confident using me and not be afraid to bring me in."

Around the horn

Orioles closer Randy Myers, who pitched one-third of an inning last night, has gone 16 days without a save opportunity. As he waits for more chances, he is throwing hard in workouts, but trying not to throw too hard, in the event he's suddenly needed for three or four consecutive games. "It's kind of a Catch-22," Myers said. . . . An AL scout timed Jeffrey Hammonds running down the first base line on Monday night at 4.12 seconds, a very good time. . . . The Orioles made a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres, trading Single-A outfielder Keith Eaddy for switch-hitting catcher Melvin Rosario, who was batting .281 with three homers and 10 RBIs for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Rosario will report to High Desert of the California League. . . . During the Orioles' losing streak, the team is batting .306 with 34 runs, an average of 5.6 runs per game. . . . The Babe Ruth Museum has asked Brady Anderson to donate the jersey he was wearing as he hit the four consecutive leadoff homers April 18-21.

Running free

Chris Hoiles has thrown out three of 21 base runners attempting to steal, 14 percent, but that's just part of the story. Some other notes about his battle against base runners:

On eight of the 18 successful steal attempts, he hasn't bothered to throw -- most of the time because the runner got such a good jump.

Twice he has thrown the ball into center field for an error.

Opposing base runners are 4-for-4 stealing third, 14-for-17 stealing second.

With Mike Mussina on the mound, runners are 1-for-2 stealing against Hoiles; with David Wells, they are 6-for-6; and with Scott Erickson they are 5-for-5.

Pub Date: 4/24/96

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