Orioles 3, Expos 2

Rating the players

March 15, 2001|By Joe Strauss

****

Sidney Ponson: Threw 22 off-speed pitches, 21 for strikes. In spring training, that just isn't fair.

Brian Roberts: Ninth-inning pinch runner won the game with his legs. Middle infielder who's played 103 games - all at Single-A or below - could actually make the Opening Day roster as the darkest of dark horses.

Jorge Julio: Rough gem blew away game's last hitter, Randy Knorr, with a 98-mph fastball. Maybe not a bad return for Ryan Minor.

***

Little Ball: A hit batter, a walk, a steal and a ground ball broke a 2-2 tie. The Go-Go O's.

Calvin Maduro: Mows down three left-handers in a perfect eighth, his first appearance of the spring.

*

Infield D: A botched relay allowed an Expos run to score from first base on a 50-foot grounder and Jerry Hairston whiffed on a potential game-ending grounder. Oh, the humanity.

The arms

Sidney Ponson gave arguably the most impressive start of camp. He became the second starter to clear five innings, allowing two hits and one unearned run. Ponson seems committed to developing the changeup he has long treated with indifference. ... Julio, 23, sent vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift home happy by overpowering one hitter for a save. Only 2-10 at Single-A for Montreal last season, Julio is a prized project with his new organization. Owns the hardest fastball in camp. ... Six pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts without a walk.

The bats

The Orioles smacked eight hits through four innings but continue to resemble a grinder's offense. Brady Anderson and Brian Roberts had stolen bases. ... Jeff Conine continues to help his trade value by extending a torrid spring. He went 2-for-4 with his fourth extra-base hit of camp. ... Melvin Mora's two hits raised his average to .370. Jay Gibbons, look out.

The rest

The ninth inning took on an edge when Orioles reliever Leslie Brea drilled former teammate and current Expos third baseman Ryan Minor in the back with a fastball. Orioles outfielder Mike Kinkade was hit by a pitch in the top of the inning but Minor was unimpressed with Brea's sudden loss of control. When Brea tried to retrieve the ball near the first base line, Minor kicked it toward the Orioles' dugout. ... The Orioles have scheduled Jose Mercedes followed by Josh Towers for today's start against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers. A collection of minor-league arms will pick up any leftover innings.

The quote

"Probably one, possibly two." - Thrift on the number of trades he anticipates making before Opening Day.

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