FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- As the Orioles prepare for today's first intrasquad game, manager Ray Miller continues to keep close tabs on Chris Hoiles, whose running has been labored as he deals with a chronically sore hip that won't allow him to catch. Hoiles will serve as the designated hitter today, a role he would fill part-time along with some duty at first base if he makes the club.
Yesterday's workout included base-running drills. Asked about Hoiles afterward, Miller said, "He's obviously laboring a little bit. We'll just have to see if it gets better. But he ran."
Hoiles insisted the hip feels good. "Now, if [Miller's] looking at increased speed, that ain't going to happen. But that's something I've never been blessed with anyway," he said.
"We'll wait and see once the games start how everything is going along. But I don't really feel restricted. As long as I don't have to squat, I don't really feel any pain there."
Hoiles, who turns 34 later this month, worked with a sports therapist over the winter, performing exercises to stretch the muscles in his hip and back, and he's continued doing them at the complex here. It's not unusual to pass by the weight room at Fort Lauderdale Stadium and see Hoiles laying across a large Swiss rehab ball, with his body arched as he rolls back and forth.
"This winter I probably did twice as much stuff as I'd ever done, which kind of shows up on scale weight," he said. "I actually feel leaner than I ever had, but my scale weight is higher than it's ever been, between 5 and 10 pounds more. My clothes that I wore last year still fit, maybe a little loose, but I feel bigger and stronger muscular-wise."
Jeff Reboulet didn't participate in the base-running drills because of soreness in his left heel, a condition he's dealt with for much of his career.
"It's been bothering me for a few days," he said after emerging from the trainer's room. "We've kind of taken it easy on it. There's no sense overdoing it. I rode the [stationary] bike instead. Excitement."
Reboulet probably will wear some extra padding that the club hopes can alleviate the problem.
"He deals with this on a yearly basis," Miller said. "We're trying to keep it from flaring up this year. We want to make sure he doesn't aggravate it."
Mouton in there swinging
Until he's told otherwise, outfielder Lyle Mouton said he considers himself "one of the 25" who will go north when camp breaks. It's an attitude he must maintain, even if the chances of it happening aren't good.
The Orioles plan on carrying four outfielders if Hoiles proves healthy enough to play. Rich Amaral signed a two-year deal over the winter to serve, in part, as an extra outfielder. And Mouton still has an option remaining and could wind up back at Triple-A Rochester.
"The teams I've been on, they've always carried five outfielders," Mouton said. "My process is always to come in and do well, show what you've got and fight for a position. Realistically, you know it's going to be as an extra. The starting three is set. But things happen, whether it be injuries, trades, whatever."
Mouton, 30, began last year with the Yakult Swallows in Japan before signing a minor-league contract on July 2. He was hitting .353 with 17 RBIs in 18 games when the Orioles called him up on July 23 after Joe Carter was traded. He appeared in five games, going 2-for-10, before returning to the Red Wings on Aug. 4. Mouton was summoned again in September and finished with a .308 average (12-for-39) with two homers and seven RBIs in 18 games.
He played parts of three seasons with the Chicago White Sox, most recently in 1997, and is a career .288 hitter in the majors.
"I know it hurts me having an option because they can send me down and not have to worry about losing me, and being there in case somebody does get injured. Being that security, I understand. It's the nature of the beast," he said.
"I wish I could change it. I wish I didn't have an option, but that's the way it goes and I have to make the best of what's here."
He should get that chance, since Miller has said he wants to give Mouton a sufficient number of at-bats this spring. And you never know who's watching.
"This club could be dissected a lot during spring training because of the personnel they have," Mouton said. "Other teams will be scouting them, not only for trade possibilities but because of scouting, finding ways to beat them. So in that regard, I'm going to be visible to other ballclubs."
And if he gets sent down again?
"I don't plan on it, but if it happens you've just got to battle," he said. "The worst thing you can do is sulk because you end up burying yourself. You've got to keep doing the right things because you never know when the door to opportunity is going to open."
Linton shakes off blister
Doug Linton said the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand has healed enough that he should be able to throw on the side today. He wasn't allowed to throw batting practice on Sunday as a precaution.