PHOENIX - After consecutive days facing the National League's two best pitchers, Arizona's Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, the Orioles turn their attention toward the league's best hitter: San Francisco's Barry Bonds.
Never having faced Bonds or the Giants, the Orioles will be learning as they go this weekend at Pacific Bell Park.
Orioles manager Mike Hargrove gave no definitive answers about how his team plans to approach the slugger who broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record last season with 73.
"He's a tremendous hitter, and obviously there's been a lot of people searching for a way to get him out," Hargrove said. "This being the first time we've faced him, we're going to listen to a number of people, and I'm certainly not going to make public how we're going to do it."
The Orioles have only one pitcher on their staff with any experience facing Bonds. Left-handed reliever Buddy Groom has held Bonds hitless in four career at-bats, and it's safe to say Hargrove will call upon Groom to face him again this weekend.
Bonds, who had a scheduled day off yesterday, has 22 home runs and leads the NL with a .348 batting average and 85 walks. As for deciding when to walk Bonds, and when to pitch to him, Hargrove said it will depend on the situation.
"Barry's one of the most dominant players in the game today or ever, and we certainly recognize that," Hargrove said. "But the last time I looked, Barry wasn't perfect. You can still get him out. And there are other good hitters in their lineup besides Barry. Jeff Kent's pretty good himself.
"If our focus was entirely on getting Barry Bonds out, that's not the right approach. You can't let your focus go to the point where it's one guy and one guy alone. Getting him out is not the end-all, be-all to beating the San Francisco Giants. They've got a very good ballclub."
Ponson eyes next start
Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson still had the stitch marks from the baseball imprinted on his right wrist yesterday, but he said the injury that forced him to leave Wednesday's game in the fourth inning won't keep him from making his start Tuesday against the New York Yankees.
Ponson took a hard bouncer from Arizona's Steve Finley off the outside of the wrist, but X-rays showed no broken bones. Ponson is hoping it won't interrupt his rhythm. He is 0-1 with a 2.10 ERA in his past four starts and said he hasn't felt this good on the mound since the end of the 2000 season.
Brock gets first victory
With Ponson injured, the Orioles turned to Chris Brock, who gave them three innings of scoreless relief to earn the win in their 6-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. It was Brock's first victory since June 16, 2001, with Philadelphia. After coming over to the Orioles in a trade for pitcher John Wasdin, Brock made just three appearances before spending six weeks on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Upon returning, his ERA ballooned to 10.80, but he knocked that down to 6.75 on Wednesday night.
"I was just happy to get some innings in after being on the DL so long," Brock said.
Around the horn
First baseman Jeff Conine (strained right hamstring) can't come off the disabled list until June 30, and it's still uncertain whether he'll be ready that day. "We'll know more when we get through this period," Hargrove said. "I say he'll be all right." ... Shortstop Mike Bordick has gone 53 games without an error, six shy of his career high.