Roch around the clock

ROCH AROUND THE CLOCK

The Kickoff

March 01, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO

Though I like the idea of a young starter learning the ropes in a major league bullpen, which used to be the Orioles' method many years ago, I doubt they'd do it with Adam Loewen. He needs to work on his command and build on the progress he made last season. And Todd Williams' shoulder problem, if it carries into the regular season, would necessitate another right-hander for the bullpen, which further eliminates Loewen. Maybe Hayden Penn, though I'd also like to see him get more starts.

As for LaTroy Hawkins ... he's blending in just fine, and I don't believe he has had problems with teammates in the past. There have been some issues with the media, but I'm told the guys in San Francisco loved him. And he has been fine so far this spring. He does make a habit of checking everyone's credential so he can match a face with a name and know who he's dealing with, but I assume that's not so he can hunt us down later and hurt us.

I'll assume Jeff Conine and Kevin Millar are safe, even with the surplus of corner outfielders/first basemen/designated hitters in camp. But the team could go in so many different directions now that Richard Hidalgo has signed. Javy Lopez might have to change his opinion of being the DH, because it's pretty obvious that the Orioles would be much more comfortable with Conine at first. Millar isn't much of a defensive player, but even he's an upgrade over Lopez, simply because of his experience. Which again makes it possible that Lopez is traded, if the Orioles could only find the right match.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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