Boskie works out kinks on 5th try Pitcher turns in best showing of spring

Orioles notebook

Mets near deal for Alexander

March 22, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Shawn Boskie made his fifth appearance last night, but Orioles manager Davey Johnson felt as though he was getting his first real look at the right-hander.

"That's the Shawn Boskie that I saw last year," Johnson said after the game, which was called in the sixth inning because of rain with the Orioles leading the New York Mets, 11-4. "I think he was right, he's just a slow starter."

Boskie, signed as a free agent after spending the past two seasons with the California Angels, allowed three hits and a run in the first inning, but only a walk over the next two. In the process, he lowered his spring ERA over 11 innings from 5.63 to 4.91.

In his previous outing, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boskie gave up five hits and two runs -- one earned -- in two innings. It was a continuation of what had been a disappointing spring from a pitcher who had been considered the front-runner to win the job as fifth starter.

"I felt better than I have this spring, physically and mentally. Just a little more ready to pitch, I guess," Boskie said. "I also knew I hadn't thrown the ball good yet. I haven't been terrible, but I haven't been good. I just felt like I needed to show myself, as well as the team, I was going to go out there with some intensity and make some pitches.

"I felt confident I would throw well because the last time I threw on the side, I felt like I figured something out that would help and my arm felt better. I knew it would be better, I just didn't know when."

Boskie's primary competition for the fifth starter's job, Scott Kamieniecki, had his worst outing. In two innings, the right-hander gave up three runs on six hits, walked one and threw a wild pitch. His ERA rose from 2.00 to 4.09.

L "He was all over. Maybe it was the wet field," Johnson said.

Both pitchers are scheduled to make at least one more appearance before Opening Day, and Johnson said he'll decide who will be in the rotation after that.

"I feel like if I pitch well, that stuff will take care of itself," Boskie said. "Thinking about that doesn't really do too much for me."

Right-hander Mike Johnson, a Rule 5 draftee who has been impressive, isn't a candidate for the rotation. "To me, he's trying to make the club, not necessarily to make it as a starter," said Davey Johnson.

Alexander headed for Mets?

Manny Alexander may finally get his chance to play -- at least occasionally -- even if it's not with the Orioles.

According to National League sources, the Orioles and Mets are seriously discussing a trade that would send Alexander to the Mets for the minor-league catcher Charlie Greene, the New York Times reported.

General manager Pat Gillick met with Joe McIlvaine, the Mets' vice president and general manager, for an hour last night without a resolution.

Alomar coming along

Roberto Alomar took live batting practice with the rest of the team on one of the auxiliary fields. He's eager to begin playing after spending five weeks recovering from a sprained left ankle, but understands why Johnson is taking a cautious approach.

"You have to take it slowly," he said. "I still have 2 1/2 weeks to go. I'm not in a hurry. Hopefully, maybe I'll play the last week of spring training, maybe sooner. I'm just trying to get better, that's the main concern.

"I'm anxious to go out there. But take it day by day. You can't rush it. If you do and it becomes worse, it's going to be more difficult to come back."

Alomar, who said he also took live batting practice Thursday in Fort Lauderdale while the Orioles played in West Palm Beach, needs some time to get acquainted with his new double-play partner, shortstop Mike Bordick.

"The main thing with me and Mike is going to be communication," he said. "We have to talk about, 'Hey, where do you like the ball?' Cal [Ripken] liked the ball on the inside of the bag. Mike, I don't know yet. I haven't talked to him about it. It's those kinds of things that are going to make us more comfortable with each other; where he likes the ball, where I like the ball. As long as we can communicate, we'll be fine."

Injury update

Tony Tarasco, who had been sidelined with a nagging quadriceps strain, started in left field and had two hits and three RBIs.

Pete Incaviglia (rib cage strain) and Jerome Walton (abdominal strain) took batting practice and were cleared to play.

Walton grounded to second in his only at-bat in the fifth. Incaviglia was on deck when the fifth inning ended, but didn't get to bat in the sixth when the game was called.

Around the horn

B. J. Surhoff and Lenny Webster each had two hits last night. Surhoff, Brady Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro each knocked in two runs. The team has sold 3.1 million tickets and has sold out 38 of the 81 scheduled home games. The 3.1 million sold represents an increase of 200,000 over this time last year.

Orioles today

Opponent: New York Mets

Site: Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Time: 2: 10 p.m.

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina vs. Mets' Pete Harnisch

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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