4-0 Guzman gives O's healthy dose of spring optimism

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Starter stymies Marlins even without best stuff

April 02, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

VIERA, Fla. -- Juan Guzman said he didn't bring his good stuff into his final Grapefruit League start yesterday. It was a well-kept secret. Certainly, the Florida Marlins had no idea.

Guzman put the finishing touches on a marvelous spring, shutting out the Marlins on three hits over six innings in a 2-0 victory at Space Coast Stadium.

Once a health riddle, Guzman went 4-0 and allowed only three earned runs in 28 innings. No other Orioles starter can touch him.

"He hasn't shown me any sign of weakness this year at all," said manager Ray Miller. "He hasn't wanted to come out of anything."

Who could blame him? Guzman often was frustrated last season as he recovered from shoulder surgery the previous September. Returning sooner than expected, he went a combined 10-16 with Toronto and the Orioles, matching a career high with 33 starts but knowing there were limitations to what he could do.

Not anymore.

"Right now, I'm up to that same point I was in '91 and '92," said Guzman, who went a combined 26-8 with 288 strikeouts those two years. "Actually, I feel a lot better because I have more experience. In '91 and '92, I felt fine physically but I didn't have the experience. Right now, I'm even better."

He needed some extra savvy to get by yesterday.

"I didn't feel like I had good stuff but I managed to do what I was supposed to do," he said. "I used all my pitches. I know what to do in situations like that."

More AL games needed

If Miller could make one major change to the schedule next spring, it would be to include more games against American League teams. The Orioles faced only three, the Minnesota Twins twice and the Boston Red Sox once. A March 28 game against the Red Sox was canceled because of the exhibition in Cuba.

Miller's opportunities to use a designated hitter were limited mostly to the games played in Fort Lauderdale, meaning Harold Baines did more sitting than his manager wanted. Baines has 26 plate appearances, a paltry total compared to the 76 for club leader Brady Anderson.

"I'd rather drive across Alligator Alley three or four times and play American League folks and use the DH," Miller said. "We have [three] games to go and I can't use Harold except to pinch hit, except on the last day. I was trying to figure out why we were the home team in Birmingham [tomorrow against the Phillies]. Probably, Harold called them and asked them."

Ripken moved up for a day

Miller moved Cal Ripken up to third yesterday with the intention of giving him a fourth at-bat "a little quicker" than if he was placed lower in the order.

At least, that was the plan.

With Marlins starter Livan Hernandez plowing through the lineup, Ripken's third at-bat didn't come until the seventh inning, when he led off by homering off former Oriole Archie Corbin. Ripken then was replaced at third base by Jeff Reboulet.

Miller appreciates depth

Each personnel move made by general manager Frank Wren seems to bring more contentment to Miller, who still is haunted by last season's limited minor-league options when his club was riddled with injuries.

"I'll say one thing for Frank, we had no depth and he's worked his butt off to get us a good club and to try to have some depth behind it. And we'll certainly have that. Whoever ends up playing infield at Rochester, it's going to be one of the better infields as far as prospects go," Miller said.

"The thing I like is Frank has done a tremendous job of replacing the talent that we had and not giving up the talent we had coming. So, for the first time there is a tank to go to."

Pub Date: 4/02/99

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