Drubbing underlines weariness with camp

Orioles notebook

Players itching to get real thing under way

Gibbons still uncertain

March 30, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Orioles played their final road game in Florida yesterday, giving up their most runs of the spring in a 16-4 loss to the New York Mets. All that remains is today's home finale against the Mets and a trip to Atlanta to face the Braves before heading north for another Opening Day at Camden Yards.

For most of the players, the end of spring training can't come soon enough. They agree that six weeks is more than enough time to prepare. The games already have become a grind.

"You certainly use this time to work out all the kinks and hope that, after all the ups and downs, you finish on a high note and carry it into the season," said shortstop Mike Bordick. "But I think guys are certainly anxious to get the season under way. Spring training can be a long time. You think, `Well, we're only going to be down here a month and a half.' Then just about the fourth week into it, you're like, `Geez, let's go. We're all ready.' "

Manager Mike Hargrove sensed that mood growing stronger on Tuesday after the Orioles' first game against the Florida Marlins in Viera.

"I got a serious sense from everybody that it's time for us to break camp. It happens every year," he said.

"I talked to [Colorado manager] Buddy Bell this morning. They're leaving, and he said, `Not a day too soon.' Everybody's like that."

The Rockies have received more favorable preseason treatment than the Orioles, who are being picked by some publications to finish last in the AL East.

"There's certainly a lot of talent in here," Bordick said. "I think at the end of last year, this team proved that it could win. And this spring the guys have played really good baseball.

"The guys are excited. Going into the year being underdogs, everybody kind of counting you out, I think as a team, collectively, we all believe in ourselves and know we have a great opportunity to sneak up on people."

Gibbons still in dark

Jay Gibbons continues to receive treatment on his right hand after being hit during Monday's game against the Cardinals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He already had been dealing with some lingering soreness in his right hamstring while also recovering from the flu.

His reward at the end should be a spot on the 25-man roster, though he's not assuming anything.

"I still know nothing," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. They probably won't tell me anything until Saturday. But either way, it's been fun."

Gibbons wore a small ice pack on the hand yesterday while carrying his bag to the team bus. He batted once yesterday, hitting a ninth-inning home run after "scuffling a little bit" the previous two days, Hargrove said. So much for being hindered.

The pitch "got me pretty good," said Gibbons, who pinch-hit Tuesday in Viera and didn't play the next day. "I'd say it's about 95 percent right now. It's getting a lot better.

"I was a little worried the next day, but the day after that it was 100 percent better. It's just a deep-bruise thing. It would have been nice not to get hit."

Gibbons usually is the one doing the hitting. The Rule 5 pick began yesterday batting .346. He's got four homers and 11 RBIs.

He must be kept on the roster all season or offered back to Toronto for $25,000. Finding room for him became simpler as the Orioles dug deeper into their spring schedule.

"If you had a vote, everybody would vote for that," said Syd Thrift, the club's vice president of baseball operations.

Hairston discomfort

Second baseman Jerry Hairston had his left hand wrapped after the game, continuing treatment for a bruised left pinkie he incurred while diving into second base on Wednesday.

It didn't keep him out of the lineup yesterday, when he singled in the seventh inning, but Hairston said he had some discomfort gripping the bat.

"It'll be OK. It's not broken or anything," he said.

Rotating views

Thrift projected a rotation at Triple-A Rochester this season of Josh Towers, Jay Spurgeon, Chad Paronto, Sean Douglass and left-hander John Parrish. Another left-hander, John Bale, could enter the group if sent down by the Orioles this weekend. Paronto was used in relief by the Orioles this spring and could return to the bullpen.

The rotation at Double-A Bowie is expected to include Miguel Felix, Rick Bauer, John Stephens, Juan Figueroa and Michael Paradis, the 13th overall selection in the 1999 draft who split last season between Single-A Delmarva and Frederick.

Beau Hale, the Orioles' top pick in last April's draft, will open the season at Single-A Frederick. Left-hander Richard Stahl, the No. 1 pick in 1999, is expected to return to Delmarva.

Around the horn

THE NUMBER: 12 -- Pitchers in camp, not including reliever Alan Mills, who's expected to be placed on the disabled list because of September shoulder surgery. The Orioles intend to take 11 pitchers into the regular season, so another cut remains.

INJURY UPDATE: First baseman David Segui made his first start since March 12, when he aggravated a hamstring injury. He went 0-for-3 with a walk. His first appearance came as a pinch hitter on Wednesday, when he walked and was removed for a pinch runner. The Orioles expect to include him in the Opening Day lineup despite a limited number of at-bats. ... Third baseman Cal Ripken made a diving stop of a liner by Jorge Tocqa in the second inning, landing hard on his right side, where he's recovered from a fractured rib. But he also went hitless in four at-bats and is 1-for-19 this spring.

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