Battle for final spot takes different spin Kamieniecki impressive

Krivda, Boskie struggle

March 16, 1997|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Right-hander Shawn Boskie was considered the early favorite to win the final spot in the Orioles' starting rotation, but the three-man competition for the job is not playing out quite as expected.

Former New York Yankees right-hander Scott Kamieniecki pitched two scoreless innings in yesterday's 8-2 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, enhancing his already solid spring numbers, while Boskie and long-shot Rick Krivda continued to struggle.

Krivda gave up five runs on nine hits over three innings to increase his spring ERA to 11.25 and Boskie gave up two unearned runs on five hits in a frustrating outing that has him wondering when things are going to start falling into place. There are, after all, only two weeks left before Opening Day.

"I'm disappointed with the way I've pitched," Boskie said, "but physically I'm feeling good, so I know it will come along. I had a dead arm for a while, but that's not it. I really haven't made too many good pitches."

Manager Davey Johnson said yesterday that it is too early to draw any conclusions, but he does not seem particularly happy with the way the fifth-starter competition has gone so far.

"Krivda was getting the ball up, Boskie was up, even Kamieniecki was up in his first inning, but he got better," Johnson said. "Performances down here don't have a lot of meaning to me, but how you're getting hit means a lot to me."

Boskie has been getting hit regularly. He has allowed 12 hits in just eight innings and opposing hitters are batting a combined .371 against him. He probably will get the benefit of the doubt, because he won 12 games for the California Angels last year, but he knows that he needs to settle into some kind of rhythm soon to establish himself in the rotation.

"When you're fighting for a spot, you don't have the luxury of going at your own pace," he said. "You have to be sharp right away and I haven't been as sharp as I could be."

Krivda would have had to pitch extremely well this spring to break into the rotation, but he may have fallen entirely out of consideration with yesterday's rocky start. Johnson said that Boskie will get the next start and the opportunity to find himself in an extended appearance.

Kamieniecki was the sleeper all along. He once was considered a top prospect in the Yankees' organization, but has spent the past three seasons fighting to overcome arm problems. He didn't throw a pitch at the major-league level last year, but came to camp in playing shape after pitching in winter ball during the off-season.

The two scoreless innings dropped his spring ERA to 2.00, but he thinks he will be even better when he gets the opportunity to make an extended start.

"I still need a little more work," he said. "Today I threw 25 pitches. I'm a guy who needs a lot of work, but it's good to get the results. That reinforces how hard you work. I'm feeling great."

If Kamieniecki continues to throw well, he'll force Johnson into a difficult decision. Boskie, regardless of his spring performance, has a reputation for getting off to a fast start in the regular season. Kamieniecki actually has the better major-league track record, but has not pitched a full season in the major leagues since 1994.

"We know what [Boskie] can do," Johnson said. "Spring training is a time to get your arm in shape, but you have to come on sooner or later. He'll get four days' rest, and we'll try to stretch him out. He has shown flashes of it, but then gets something up in the zone."

There still is the possibility that the Orioles will pull off a deal to increase Johnson's options, but there is never a lot of good pitching available at this time of year -- or any time of year, for that matter. The Dodgers are known to be shopping knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, but a source in that organization said yesterday that they would like one of the Orioles' top young pitching prospects -- perhaps Sidney Ponson -- in trade for a sub-.500 pitcher who makes more than $3 million per year. Barring an injury to one of the Orioles' core starters, that scenario seems highly unlikely.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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