All signs positive for Guillen roster bid Official word won't come till Sunday

Orioles Notebook

Kamieniecki's back spasms subside

March 26, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

VIERA, Fla. -- Though manager Ray Miller isn't expected to make public his 25-man roster until after Sunday's exhibition game at Camden Yards, infielder Ozzie Guillen has been given every indication that he has made the club.

"He hasn't told me anything yet, but he said he's leaning to me," said Guillen, whose inclusion on the roster would leave the Orioles with 11 pitchers and 14 position players on Opening Day.

Miller held off making his moves official because of pitcher Scott Kamieniecki's back spasms and catcher Lenny Webster's sore right elbow. He's expected to take seven extra players to Baltimore for Sunday's game: pitchers Nerio Rodriguez and Doug Johns, catchers Charlie Greene and Melvin Rosario, infielders Ryan Minor and P. J. Forbes, and outfielder Jesus Tavarez.

Guillen, signed to a minor-league contract after 13 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, is batting .179 (7-for-39). He had played every infield position and left field.

Guillen collected his first two RBIs of the spring Monday in Fort Myers, hitting a bases-loaded double to right in the Orioles' 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. He also singled in his only at-bat in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the New York Mets.

"I think I've done my job," he said. "Anytime they needed me to be ready, I was ready, and I've had some good at-bats. They played me at different positions and I did the job. But I can't say I've made it yet because my contract is still Triple-A.

"I want to be a part of this team. They have a bunch of great guys here, the coaching staff has treated me real well and the manager couldn't be better to me. When you're happy and comfortable, that's all that matters to me. I want to be happy, I want to be smiling, I want to win. So far, that's all I've been doing here, winning and smiling.

"I love the attitude of the players here. It could be a problem when you have a lot of star players on the same team, but I think here every player is looking to win. They're not looking for a contract, they're not looking to be in the All-Star Game. Every player here has one thing on their mind -- to play in October, to go to the World Series. I like to have fun, but when the game's on the line, I take it real serious."

Guillen, repeated yesterday that if he didn't make the club, he would return to his home in Venezuela rather than go to the minors.

Kamieniecki improves

Kamieniecki reported improvement in his back yesterday and was able to do some light throwing before the game. Miller said he's sure the right-hander will be ready for his scheduled start on Sunday, judging by the progress he's made.

Kamieniecki's back began to bother him on Monday after he rose from a chair and bent to pick up something on the floor. He couldn't sleep that night and was scratched from Tuesday's start.

Trainer Richie Bancells said he was able to "break" the spasm yesterday, which made it possible to realign Kamieniecki's back.

"He's walking a lot better," Miller said. "They got a nice pop out of his back this morning."

Miller is still waiting to see how Webster's inflamed elbow responds to medication and rest. Asked what Webster needs to do to convince Miller he's ready for Opening Day, the manager said, "See if he can get [the ball] down to second base, as far as I'm concerned.

"We all have nagging injuries. If it was his shoulder, I'd be really petrified. Elbows, you can get through. We've been doing a lot of throwing with the catchers all spring. That was part of the program. He might have aggravated it throwing more than he normally does. Once the season starts, he'll make less throws. In spring training, you make 12 million throws a day."

PA announcement today

Club spokesman John Maroon said the name of the Orioles' new public address announcer will be released today.

The winner, who Maroon said has prior experience in radio but not as a PA announcer, was chosen from among 13 finalists after one-on-one interviews and auditions conducted March 13 at Camden Yards. He will replace Rex Barney, who died at his home Aug. 11 after serving as Orioles PA announcer for nearly 25 years.

More than 320 candidates mailed resumes and audiotapes to the Orioles.

"The search went very well," Maroon said. "It wasn't an easy decision in that our 13 finalists were all pretty solid. They seemed relaxed behind the microphone, had what we thought were strong, clear voices and a love and knowledge of Orioles baseball. But this gentleman just seemed to have the voice and the feel that we were looking for."

Around the horn

Orioles starters have compiled a 2.30 ERA over the past 16 games (78 1/3 innings, 74 hits, 20 earned runs, 18 walks, 40 strikeouts). Mike Mussina makes his final exhibition start today against Florida right-hander Livan Hernandez, the MVP of last year's World Series. The Orioles pounded Hernandez for nine runs (eight earned) and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in a March 16 start in Fort Lauderdale.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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