FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Making his first appearance since throwing a scoreless inning in an intrasquad game, former Glen Burnie High standout Tony Saunders allowed two runs in the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals before the Orioles reassigned the left-hander to their minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla.
Saunders' line looks worse than the performance.
The Cardinals didn't hit the ball hard, but they kept finding vacant ground. At one point, Saunders hung his head in disgust after Chris Duncan bounced an RBI single into center field. Another ball squirted past shortstop Brandon Fahey and third baseman Napoleon Calzado.
"That's what happens when you leave the ball up," he said.
Saunders, who walked a batter and allowed three straight hits, retired in August 2000 after breaking his left arm for a second time. He's expected to begin the season at Double-A Bowie.
"I know I can do this now by the way I felt out there," he said. "You never fully know until you go out there and let it go."
Being aware that he wasn't competing for a roster spot allowed Saunders to relax despite the long layoff.
"I thought I'd be more nervous," he said, "but I think it's the approach I'm taking this time."
Manager Lee Mazzilli checked on how Saunders felt and got the expected answer.
"He said a little weird, which is understandable," Mazzilli said. "You pull for guys like that."
The Orioles made one other roster move after the game, optioning pitcher Jacobo Sequea.
Sammy Sosa managed to overshadow himself yesterday, making his second spring home run seem like a footnote.
Sosa scored from first base on a bloop double near the left-field line by B.J. Surhoff in the fourth. Sosa singled with one out, and he raced home when the Cardinals were slow to get the ball back to the infield.
Given the relative unimportance of the game, his hustle was impressive.
"That's what happens when you're trying to make the team," he said, grinning.
The two hits raised Sosa's average from .176 to .250.
"I know I'm going to hit," he said. "I really don't worry about it."
Around the horn
Larry Bigbie hit a two-run homer in the Orioles' other split-squad game against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla., but John Maine and Tony Fiore combined to allow nine runs in the fifth inning in a 11-4 loss. ... Catcher Sal Fasano moved to first base in the seventh inning against St. Louis. ... The Orioles summoned infielders Fahey, Tripper Johnson, Travis Brown and Joey Hammond, and outfielders Jerrod Rine, Woody Cliffords, Jeff Inglin and Eugene Kingsale from their minor league camp to fill out the split-squad rosters.