News Archives: March 2001

March 31
Grapefruit League: Opening Day-2

Spring Training Notes

A four game losing streak was snapped on Friday, as the Orioles won their final exhibition game in Florida, 4-3 over the Mets. (Their final spring training game will be played in Atlanta.) Sidney Ponson was excellent, pitching 5 innings of 6-hit, 1-run ball. Calvin Maduro was equally impressive, throwing 2 scoreless innings and remaining unscored upon for the spring. Mike Trombley let Ponson down, giving up 2 runs in the eighth inning to blow the lead (though Ed Rogers' error was partly to blame), before Ryan Kohlmeier ended the game with a shaky, though scoreless, inning. Unfortunately, the team offense once again struggled, scoring just one run through eight innings before rallying for three runs in the ninth off some Mets minor league pitchers. Mike Bordick hit his second homer, and David Segui and Jeff Conine doubled, but the team managed just five other singles, and required the help of a Mets error in the ninth in order to score the winning runs. (Boxscore).


PlayerThe inside scoop 
Sidney Ponson
RHP
5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 K. Goes into the season on a high note.[SMILEY]
Calvin Maduro
RHRP
2 IP, 1 H. Pitched a scoreless spring, almost certainly earning a spot on the roster. Nice to see a farm product get another chance.[SMILEY]
Mike Trombley
RHRP
1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 K. A bad end to what had been a pretty good spring/ Still he finished with 13 Ks and just 5 hits and 1 walk in 9 innings[SMILEY]
Ryan Kohlmeier
Closer
1 IP, 2 H. Even when he's throwing scoreless innings, he's putting baserunners on, finishing the spring allowing 20 runners in just 10.1 IP. Not a good sign for a closer, and if the Orioles had other options, he'd be in trouble.[FROWNY]
Mike Bordick
SS
1-3, HR, RBI, run scored. Having a good spring, not that it really matters.[SMILEY]
David Segui
DL/1B
1-2, 2B. Has his first hit in almost 3 weeks. Can he really be ready?[QUESTION]
Cal Ripken
3B
1-3, RBI. An RBI sac fly in the ninth inning as part of the Orioles rally. He looked better, but this was just his third hit of the spring, and there's no way he can be called ready.[QUESTION]
Eugene Kingsale
Backup CF
1-1, in what’s almost certainly his last hurrah of the spring. He is expected to be sent down today, but he finished the spring with a .388 average, and probably ensured himself a callup if there's an OF injury.[SMILEY]
Fernando Lunar
Backup C/Debacle
0-0, PB. When you can't hit -- and he can't -- you can't be making defensive mistakes.[FROWNY]

Roster notes (Transactions): The Orioles sent SS Brian Roberts to minor league camp for reassignment, and placed RHRP Alan Mills on the disabled list, as expected. For our Transactions Breakdown....

Other roster notes: The Orioles have announced that they won't sign Jose Canseco, which probably means that they will. Other than players already on the DL, the rest of the team is healthy -- though some are clearly still rusty. The final roster cuts will come today, with Eugene Kingsale and either John Bale or Calvin Maduro (probably Bale) being demoted.

Next game: Saturday, 1 PM vs. Atlanta in Atlanta. Scheduled to pitch: Jason Johnson. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Notes: Kansas City sent pitcher Chris Fussell to the minors. Also, LHP Jesse Orosco was released by the Dodgers on Friday, and he's not happy about it, calling Dodger GM (and ex-O Assistant GM) Kevin Malone a liar. He's now discussing the possibility of retirement. And finally, Dodger ace Kevin Brown is hurt, and will be out until at least the middle of April.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 30
Grapefruit League: Opening Day-3, and counting.

Spring Training Notes

The Orioles dropped their fourth straight game on Thursday, and this time it wasn't even close. The Mets scored early and often. And then they scored some more. Starter Chuck McElroy was pounded, allowing 8 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits in just 3.1 innings of work. His control completely deserted him, as he walked 6 and struck out just 1. But that wasn't all the damage; after he left, reliever John Bale came in and was also pounded, getting just 2 batters out while giving up 3 hits (including a HR) and 4 runs. Jorge Julio temporarily stemmed the bleeding with a perfect inning, but was replaced by Buddy Groom (1 unearned run in one inning) and Ryan Kohlmeier (3 runs while getting just one batter out). Finally, BJ Ryan and minor leaguer Jason Lakman shut down the Mets at the end with 1.2 combined scoreless innings. But if that wasn't enough to make an Oriole fan tear his hair out, the offense, once again, was inadequate. In the previous few games, it was inefficient (lots of baserunners but few runs); on Thursday, in contrast, it was efficient (few baserunners, few runs). The Orioles were held scoreless until the game was long out of reach, finally scratching out three runs in the 7th inning after being down 13-0. Jay Gibbons hit a solo homer in the ninth inning off the dregs of the Mets' bullpen, but other than that, the team managed just 5 singles. Add it up, and the Orioles were drubbed 16-4 by the Mets. Adding insult to injury, former Oriole Armando Benitez struck out the side in the inning he pitched. (Boxscore).


PlayerThe inside scoop 
Chuck McElroy
LHSP/RP
3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R (7 earned), 6 BB, 1 K. We repeat what we said about Pat Hentgen: as a warmup for the season, it was awful. Finished the spring with a 6.46 ERA, and struck out just 7 in 15.1 innings, while giving up 20 hits and 11 walks. The primary difference? Hentgen is guaranteed a starting job, while McElroy may have just blown his chance at one.[FROWNY]
John Bale
LHRP
2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 HR. Another pitcher who may have just blown the job that he had almost sewn up. A reliever with a 6.91 ERA, against whom opponents have hit .323, isn't exactly what the team is looking for. If he weren't a lefty, he'd be gone already.[FROWNY]
Jorge Julio
RHRP
1 perfect IP, 2 Ks. A good wrapup to his spring, but it was too late, and he was demoted. If he had had a few more outings like this one, he'd have been in the major league bullpen. If Bale has another outing like the one he had, Julio will be in the major league bullpen.[QUESTION]
Buddy Groom
LHRP
1 IP, 1 H, 1 unearned run, 1 K. Another pitcher with a bad spring (6.48 ERA, .333 OAVG), but at least there are some glimmers with him (8.1 IP, 8 K, 0 BB).[FROWNY]
Ryan Kohlmeier
Closer
1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 0 K. A closer who doesn't strike people out (4 K in 9.1 IP) and who puts lots of runners on base (18 H+W) and who allows a lot of runs (5.79 ERA) doesn't last as closer for long. Sensing a pattern here? [FROWNY]
B.J. Ryan
LHRP
2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 BB. Good outing, but given his overall spring performance (5.59 ERA, 3 K in 9.2 IP, 13 baserunners), he's just lucky he's a lefty and that there's nobody around to replace him.[FROWNY]
Brian Roberts
Utility infielder
0-5, SB, 2 errors. He probably wasn't going to make the opening day roster anyway, but this couldn't have come at a worse time. Still, he's well positioned for a callup if someone gets hurt.[QUESTION]
Mike Kinkade
1B/3B/C/COF
0-1, and now 2 for his last 23. Stop us if you've read this about Kinkade before. He'd better hope that Jose Canseco signs elsewhere.[FROWNY]
David Segui
DL/1B
0-3, with a walk, playing the field for the first time in weeks. He hasn't had a hit since the 11th. Obviously, he hasn't played much since then, but his readiness for opening day has to be questionable.[FROWNY]
Cal Ripken
3B
0-4. Now batting 1-19 (053/143/105). This is getting embarrassing; when will the team admit that he isn't ready?[FROWNY]
Jay Gibbons
1B/DH
1-1 with a pinch hit HR. Finally, some good news. When will the Orioles wise up and let him play?[SMILEY]
Fernando Lunar
Backup C/Debacle
After skipping the last three days, Lunar went 0-4. He's now down to 2-24 this spring, which is 083/120/083. This is absurd. Admit you made a mistake in trading for him, Syd. Please, we're begging you.[FROWNY]

Roster notes (Transactions): The Orioles sent RHRPs Chad Paronto and Jorge Julio to minor league camp for reassignment. For our Transactions Breakdown....

Other roster notes: 1B David Segui (hamstring) was finally back in the lineup as a regular, starting at first base. And the final roster cuts will come today or tomorrow, with Brian Roberts and Eugene Kingsale expected to be demoted, and with Alan Mills being disabled and with either John Bale or Calvin Maduro being demoted.

We hate to toot our own horn, but yesterday we noted that Orioles fans should be scared, because of the Orioles' youthaphobia, and the availability of some washed up veterans, like 3B Ed Sprague and DH Jose Canseco. Now, Pseudo-general manager Syd Thrift has confirmed the team's interest in Canseco. And if that's not enough, this profile of Thrift should be enough to terrify anybody. The only thing worse than being stupid is being stupid and incompetent... and not realizing it. Know thyself, Syd. And we also thought you might be interested in this Miami Herald piece on Chris Richard.

Next game: Friday, 1 PM vs. the New York Mets at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: Sidney Ponson. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Notes: Two catcher items: Gregg Zaun, currently playing for the Royals, tore his left calf and is expected to miss about a month, while Mel Rosario was sent to the minors by the Diamondbacks. OF Karim Garcia was sent to the minors by the Indians. Also, LHP Kent Mercker was released by the Red Sox. Starting pitcher Garrett Stephenson of the Cardinals was placed on the disabled list.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 29
Grapefruit League - Endgame (Game 28)

Spring Training Notes

In a game which was almost the same as the two previous days' games, the Orioles fell to the Florida Marlins, 5-3, as they managed only a perfunctory offensive effort and their pitching proved insufficient to hold a small early lead. The Orioles scored first, a run in the second inning, but starter Pat Hentgen immediately gave back the lead in the bottom of the inning, serving up the first of Marlin Derrek Lee's two home runs. Hentgen allowed just 6 hits, but in addition to Lee's two home runs, those hits included another Marlin gopherball, and when the three walks, the HBP, and the two wild pitches were thrown in, Hentgen lasted just 5 innings, giving up 5 runs. The offense was completely unable to cover for his failings, as (once again) plenty of hits were scattered, but few runs were scored. The Orioles managed 10 hits, including a double and two triples, but walked only twice and managed to convert those to just 3 runs off Marlin starter Ryan Dempster and three relievers (including ex-O Ricky Bones). The Oriole bullpen was effective today, as Calvin Maduro, B.J. Ryan, and Mike Trombley combined to throw 3 shutout innings of 2-hit ball, striking out 2 and walking none, but the damage had already been done by Hentgen, who left the game making excuses about the home runs being wind-aided. (Boxscore).


PlayerThe inside scoop 
Pat Hentgen
RHP
5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 2 WP, 3 HR. As a warmup for the season, it was awful. Finished the spring with a 6 ERA, and struck out just 5 in 24 innings, while giving up 28 hits and 6 walks. It's only the spring, but when opponents hit .292 off you, it's never a good sign.[FROWNY]
Calvin Maduro
RHRP
1 IP, 1 K. No runs allowed all spring (12.1 IP), with a 9-1 K-BB ratio and just 6 hits. Wow. But is it enough, or will favoritism doom him to Rochester?[SMILEY]
B.J. Ryan
LHRP
1 IP, 1 H. It drops his ERA all the way to 6 for the spring. Not what we want to see.[QUESTION]
Jerry Hairston
2B
3-4, SB, run scored. Batting leadoff, he finally had a good game. About time.[SMILEY]
Mike Kinkade
1B/3B/C/COF
0-1, and now 2 for his last 22. Uh oh. We sense trouble.[FROWNY]
Cal Ripken
3B
0-4, again failing to get a ball out of the IF. Now batting 1-15 (.067). He ain't ready, folks, and three days isn't enough time for him to get ready.[FROWNY]
Jeff Conine
1B/COF/Pseudo-3B/Trade Bait
3-3, BB, 3B, 2 runs scored. He hits his team leading third triple of the spring? What's in his drinking water? At 369/408/600, having one of the best springs of any Oriole.[SMILEY]
David Segui
DL/1B
0-0, BB. His first plate appearance in weeks, and he's too enfeebled to run the bases?[FROWNY]

Other roster notes: 1B David Segui (hamstring), who had been expected to play, was used only as a pinch hitter; he walked and was then immediately taken out of the game for a pinch-runner. Supposedly he'll really play today, and will be ready for Opening Day. The Orioles are expected to make their penultimate set of roster cuts today. Unfortunately, no trades appear to be likely in the near future that might help clear up some of the issues surrounding the roster.

Be Afraid: Cal Ripken doesn't look ready, and the Orioles are the Orioles. Are they more likely to hand playing time to the "inexperienced" Mike Kinkade, or to a Proven Veteran, who had a good spring, who is "only" 33 and whose father works for the organization? We're worried, because someone who fits that description just came on the market: the San Diego Padres released Ed Sprague on Wednesday. We haven't heard any rumors, but every time an aging veteran who doesn't fit in with the team roster comes on the market, the Orioles seem to grab him. So we're a little worried. (And if that's not enough, the Angels released DH Jose Canseco on Wednesday also. We can just see the press release about Canseco fitting the team's need for a "proven right-handed slugger to replace Albert Belle.")

Next game: Thursday, 1 PM vs. the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie. Scheduled to pitch: Chuck McElroy. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Notes: Batting practice pitcher Norm Charlton, whose major league talent evaporated about 17 years ago, is close to winning a job in Seattle's bullpen. The Expos sent OF Mark Smith to Ottawa (AAA), and placed RHP Anthony Telford on the disabled list.

Here's an article you may have missed from the Cleveland papers, providing a look back on their former manager, and the Orioles' current manager, Mike Hargrove. And here's an interesting piece on Oriole outfielder Melvin Mora and his family situation.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 28
Grapefruit League: Day 27

Spring Training Notes

Deja vu? The Orioles score first, but score little, while the starting pitching is okay and the relief pitching is inadequate. No, that's not a recap of Monday's game, though it could be. It's a summary of Tuesday's game against the Marlins, in which the Orioles offense managed 11 hits (including 3 doubles), but could score just 2 runs. Chris Richard doubled twice among his three hits, and Melvin Mora and Delino DeShields each contributed multihit games, but a handful of scattered singles (and just one walk) was all that the rest of the lineup could muster. Starter Willis Roberts was more impressive, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) in his five innings of work, striking out seven and not walking a batter. A home run by ex-O Charles Johnson accounted for one of the two runs he allowed, and when he left the game, the Orioles trailed just 2-1. Unfortunately, the bullpen proved to be a disaster, as Alan Mills and Chad Paronto gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs in their three innings of relief work, helping to put the game out of reach. Each reliever gave up 2 runs, and Mills gave up a massive homer to Cliff Floyd, and by the time the game ended, the Orioles had lost, 6-2. (Boxscore).


Willis Roberts
RHP
5 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 earned), 7 K. The strikeouts push his team-leading total to 22, and the outing drops his ERA to 2.37. While he has probably lost out on the rotation job to Chuck McElroy, he has almost certainly clinched a bullpen slot.[SMILEY]
Alan Mills
RHRP
1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 K, 1 big HR. His ERA is now 9, and he has gotten just 3 IP this spring. Headed for the DL, where he'll probably undergo a rehab assignment in the minor leagues before returning to the roster.[FROWNY]
Chad Paronto
RHRP
2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K. He was a longshot candidate for the roster before this bad outing, and while his overall spring numbers are still good (3.27 ERA, 11 K in 11 IP, with just 3 BB), he almost certainly cost himself any shot. Still, he succeeded in raising his stock with team officials, and should be one of the first callups when a RH reliever is needed.[QUESTION]
Eugene Kingsale
Backup CF
1-1, SB, run scored. His average is nearing .400 (.396), but there's no room for him.[QUESTION]
Delino DeShields
2B/LF/Trade Bait
2-3, 2B. Every good outing can only increase his trade value.[SMILEY]
Brian Roberts
Utility infielder
0-1. Hitting 349/396/581, he has done everything possible to earn a job, but it still seems as if he is ticketed for the minors so that the team can carry extra-extra catchers.[FROWNY]
Cal Ripken
3B
0-3, failing to get a ball out of the IF. Now batting 1-11. (.091). Health may be the most important thing, but he still needs to get his timing back so that he can produce, and it doesn't look like he's ready for the season.[FROWNY]
Mike Kinkade
1B/3B/C/COF
0-1, and now 2 for his last 21. These are the Orioles, and they could well-decide that his early-spring success was a fluke. He needs to step it up over the next few days.[FROWNY]
Chris Richard
1B/LF/RF
3-4, 2 2Bs, RBI, run scored. Excelling across the board, hitting 382/440/515. That's second on the team in AVG, first in OBP. His play, combined with that of Jay Gibbons, makes the signing of Segui look even dumber, and makes a trade of Jeff Conine even more crucial.[SMILEY]
Melvin Mora
CF
2-4, SB, RBI. Having a decent, if quiet, spring, hitting 295/323/492, and tied for second on the team in home runs with 3.[SMILEY]
Greg Myers
Backup C
0-4. The Orioles have apparently reversed course and decided not to release him, which is bad for him, and bad for the team. He needs to boost his trade value to the point where some other team is willing to give up talent for him.[FROWNY]
Jerry Hairston
2B
1-2, BB, CS. Finally starting to hit? It would be a good time to get on track.[QUESTION]

Other roster notes: 1B David Segui (hamstring) is expected to play on Wednesday. Reliever Alan Mills admitted he can't pitch on two straight days, ensuring he'll start the season on the DL.

Next game: Wednesday, 1 PM vs. Florida at Viera. Scheduled to pitch: Pat Hentgen. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Notes: Career backup C Tim Laker, who all but the most zealous fan will have forgotten was an Oriole, was sent to minor league camp by the Indians on Tuesday. (Laker got 14 at-bats for the Orioles in 1997.)

Here's an article you may have missed from the Cleveland papers, providing a look back on their former manager, and the Orioles' current manager, Mike Hargrove. And here's an interesting piece on Oriole outfielder Melvin Mora and his family situation.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 27
Grapefruit League - Day 26

Spring Training Notes

On Sunday, the Orioles provided the perfect storyline for a game: score early and often, and shut down the opposing team. On Monday, the Orioles provided what will probably turn out to be a much more accurate preview of their season: mediocre pitching and little offense. The Orioles scored first, with 2 runs in the bottom of the first and one in the bottom of the second. Unfortunately, that was it for their offense, which managed 10 hits (3 for extra bases) and 3 walks, but couldn't push more than 3 runs across the plate. Jay Gibbons hit a solo shot, and Jeff Conine had a 2-hit game, but there was little else for fans to cheer about. Starter Jose Mercedes was knocked around a bit, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 10 hits (including a home run) in just 6 innings of work. Buddy Groom gave up two runs in his inning of work, helping to put the game out of reach -- but Ryan Kohlmeier was largely at fault as well, inheriting two runners from Groom in the eighth and allowing both of them to score. Kohlmeier pitched 2 innings without being charged with a run of his own, but in addition to the runners he allowed to score, he also walked 2 batters while striking out just 1. (Boxscore).


PlayerThe inside scoop 
Jose Mercedes
RHP
6 IP, 10 H, 4 R (3 earned), 3 K and a hit batsman. Not very impressive, though he did continue to demonstrate his impressive control this spring, extending his totals to 12 strikeouts without having walked a batter. Since he is guaranteed a job, this is just warmup for the season, but it's not auspicious.[FROWNY]
Buddy Groom
LHRP
1+ IP, 2 H and 2 R (one earned). Continued his disappointing spring; his ERA is now up to 7.36, and he has allowed 12 hits in his 7.1 IP.[FROWNY]
Ryan Kohlmeier
Closer
2 IP, 1 H and 2 BB. Allowing both inherited runners to score a bad sign. While his spring ERA (3.00) is good, he's unlikely to retain his closer role if he keeps up with his 4-3 K-BB ratio and 10 hits in just 9 innings of work. [QUESTION]
Brady Anderson
RF
1-3, 2B, run scored. After a slow start, he's now hitting .304. As one of the few players on the team who has demonstrated a major league bat, his success this season may be the difference between disaster and embarrassing disaster.[SMILEY]
Eugene Kingsale
Backup CF
0-1, steals a base, and makes an error in the field. Given the latest rumblings about keeping 17 catchers, he's almost certainly headed for Rochester.[FROWNY]
Brian Roberts
Utility infielder
Goes 1-2 and steals a base, raising his AVG to .357 and his team-leading SB total to 5. Unfortunately, he may be squeezed out by the Orioles' possible decision to retain Fernando Lunar and Greg Myers.[QUESTION]
Delino DeShields
2B/LF/Trade Bait
1-3, SB. Back in the lineup after a few days off with injury, and playing pretty well (.304 AVG), increasing his bench value or his trade value.[SMILEY]
Cal Ripken
3B
Doubles to RF in the 1st for his first hit, going 1-3 with a R and RBI. And he showed no physical troubles in the field. But his bat was slow, and he's now 1-8 (.125) for the spring. Is he going to be ready?[QUESTION]
Mike Kinkade
1B/3B/C/COF
Goes 0-1, and is now 2 for his last 20. Still, he's very versatile, out of options, and leads the team in homers.[FROWNY]
Jeff Conine
1B/COF/Pseudo-3B/Trade Bait
2-4 with an RBI, also a CS. Hitting .344 and leading the team in RBI with 14, raising his value as trade bait.[SMILEY]
Jay Gibbons
1B/DH
1-2 with his third homer of the spring, also HBP, IBB. Hitting .353 and leading the team in SLG (.647). Given how he's hitting, Syd Thrift sure looks smart for drafting him, but looks even stupider for signing David Segui a week later.[SMILEY]
Jerry Hairston
2B
1-4. Guaranteed a job, but with the season less than a week away, needs to pick up the pace (hitting just .222/.283/.278 for the spring).[FROWNY]

Other roster notes: RHP Pat Hentgen has been officially named opening day starter, as if this was news to anybody (besides Jose Mercedes, who complained last week that he felt he had earned the opening day start based on last season.) The Orioles may have insanely decided to carry Fernando Lunar and Greg Myers, rather than risk losing these nonentities on the waiver wire, despite the presence of far more deserving players in camp. That could cost Eugene Kingsale or Brian Roberts, both needed to fill out the bench, a major league job. LF Delino DeShields was back in the lineup after a few days off. But stop us if you've heard this before: 1B David Segui still hasn't played.

Next game: Tuesday, 6 PM vs. Florida at Viera. Scheduled to pitch: Willis Roberts, with Ryan Kohlmeier, Alan Mills, Chad Paronto and Chuck McElroy to follow, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Here's an article you may have missed from the Cleveland papers, providing a look back on their former manager, and the Orioles' current manager, Mike Hargrove. And here's an interesting piece on Oriole outfielder Melvin Mora and his family situation.

Ex-O Notes: On Sunday, the news was about Leo Gomez, and today it's about the other early-1990s Oriole infield prospect, Manny Alexander, who was sent to the minors by the Seattle Mariners. Career backup catcher Charlie Greene was sent to the minors by the Padres. In addition, RHP Scott Kamieniecki, released last week by the Yankees, was signed by the Cubs to a minor league deal.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 26
Grapefruit League: The Final Week Begins

Spring Training Notes

Another easy victory for the Orioles on Sunday. Mike Bordick hit a two-run homer (his first of the spring) in the first inning as part of a three-run inning, and that was all starter Sidney Ponson needed. Ponson went 7 shutout innings -- the first Oriole pitcher to go 7 this spring -- allowing just 5 hits, and the Orioles cruised to a 7-1 victory. BJ Ryan and Mike Trombley finished the game, with a solo homer off Ryan the only blemish on the scoreboard. Offensively, the Orioles racked up 13 hits (including 5 for extra bases), with most of the damage coming from Eugene Kingsale (4 hits), Chris Richard (2 hits), and Greg Myers (3 hits, including a home run). (Boxscore).


PlayerThe inside scoop 
Sidney Ponson
RHP
Seven shutout innings, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K. Leading the staff in strikeouts this spring, and seemingly on track for a strong season. He's "officially" the team's #2 starter.[SMILEY]
B.J. Ryan
LHRP
Continues his erratic spring, pitching one inning and giving up a solo homer. His spring ERA is now 6.75, and he has struck out just 3 in 8 innings, while walking two.[FROWNY]
Jerry Hairston
2B
Goes 0-0, reaching once on a HBP. He has some defensive gems, which is nice because he's struggling at the plate this spring, hitting just 220/286/280.[FROWNY]
Chris Richard
1B/LF/RF
Goes 2-5 with a 2B and an RBI. He is now hitting .365 this spring, second on the team to Eugene Kingsale.[SMILEY]
Cal Ripken
3B
Went 0-4 in his second appearance of the year, and is still hitless (0-5) for the spring. With only six games left, it doesn't look like he'll be ready for opening day.[FROWNY]
Mike Kinkade
1B/3B/C/COF
Has an 0-1 day while playing 3B, and still seems to be pressing. Still, he's slugging a team-leading .648, and will almost certainly make the club.[QUESTION]
Jay Gibbons
1B/DH
Doubles in 4 ABs. Stats are impressive (.347 BA, .592 SLG), but the skeleton in the closet: 0 BB and 10 Ks in 51 PAs.[SMILEY]
Greg Myers
Backup C
Trade bait goes 3-4, with a HR, 2 RBI, and a run scored, raising his average to .341. The Orioles are now talking about being willing to keep him, despite their lack of roster room, rather than losing him on waivers; his strong play can only boost his trade value.[SMILEY]
Brian Roberts
Utility infielder
Goes 1-4 with a 2B and run scored, playing SS. His prospects for winning a major league job keep increasing as he keeps hitting; his average is now up to .350[SMILEY]
Eugene Kingsale
Backup CF
Has a 4-4 day, stealing a base, recording 2 RBI and 2 runs to raise his average to a team-leading .391. But he also dropped a ball on a difficult diving play, and he needs to show defense if he expects a chance.[QUESTION]
Fernando Lunar
Backup C/Sick Joke
Has yet another hitless day, going 0-1 and dropping his average to .100 for the spring (2-20) with no extra base hits or walks. He hasn't had a hit in two weeks. The team's enamored with him, but he can't hit. At all.[FROWNY]

Other roster notes: 1B David Segui still hasn't played, and isn't expected to for several more days. The Orioles insist he'll be ready for the season, but he hasn't played in two weeks and has played in only as many games as the long-departed Steve Sisco and Wady Almonte. The readiness of 3B Cal Ripken and RHP Alan Mills is also suspect. LF Delino DeShields is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday. The final round of roster cuts probably won't be made for another week, just before the season begins.

Next game: Monday, 1 PM vs. St. Louis at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: Jose Mercedes, with Calvin Maduro, Buddy Groom, Ryan Kohlmeier and Jorge Julio to follow, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

We thought you might be interested in this story about Oriole outfielder Melvin Mora and his family situation.

Ex-O Note: The Pirates released 3B Leo Gomez today. Gomez had been playing in Japan the last few years, but came back to the United States this spring. He had the option of going to the Pirates' AAA team, but opted for free agency instead.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 25
Grapefruit League: Game 24

Spring Training Notes

Ripken returns, and so do the Orioles' bats. A day after being held to just 3 hits, the Orioles unloaded for 14 hits, six of them for extra bases, en route to a 9-5 whipping of the Dodgers. The Orioles scored 6 runs in the first inning and never looked back. Melvin Mora doubled and homered, Jeff Conine doubled twice among his three hits, and Brady Anderson, Mike Bordick, and Brook Fordyce also contributed multihit games. Relief candidate John Bale, in his first start of the spring, allowed 6 hits and 2 runs in his four innings of work. Sufficient, given the team's offensive outburst, but unimpressive and probably not helpful to him winning a job. Alan Mills pitched a perfect inning, and Calvin Maduro and Ryan Kohlmeier combined for 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. The only black mark on the bullpen was A-ball reliever Jorge Julio, who served up two gopherballs in his 1.2 innings of work and probably cost himself a major league roster spot. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
John Bale, bullpen candidate getting a start to give him an opportunity to show what he can do: 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 K.
Alan Mills, trying to prove that he is healthy: 1 perfect IP.
Jorge Julio, probably blowing his shot at the last bullpen slot: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 HRs.
Calvin Maduro, solidifying his hold on a bullpen job: 1.1 IP, 1 K.
Infield
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 0-1.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 3-5, 2 2Bs, 3 RBI, 2 runs scored.
Mike Kinkade: 1-4, SF, 2 RBI.
Jay Gibbons, 1B/DH: 0-2.
Outfield
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-1.
Chris Richard, RF, who may play first if Segui is hurt: 1-3, HBP.
Melvin Mora, CF: 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored.

Roster notes: 3B Cal Ripken returned from his long injury-induced layoff, though Dodger pitcher Chan Ho Park frustrated his attempt to get ABs by walking him twice. Ripken was able to swing at just one pitch, grounding out. Still, he was able to field a ball successfully, as well as run the bases without showing ill effects. RHRP Alan Mills had a successful outing, but still probably won't be ready for opening day. The final round of roster cuts probably won't be made for another week, just before the season begins.

Next game: Sunday, 1 PM vs. Montreal at Jupiter. Scheduled to pitch: Sidney Ponson, with B.J. Ryan, Mike Trombley and Chad Paronto to follow, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 24
Grapefruit League, Game 23

Spring Training Notes

Friday was just one of those days when nothing went right. The pitching was awful, and the hitting was awful, and the Orioles lost to the Cardinals, 8-1. Starter Pat Hentgen was blasted for 12 hits (including 4 doubles) and 7 runs in just 6 innings of work. Chad Paronto came in and slowed, but did not stop, the tide of St. Louis runs, allowing one run in his two innings of work. On the other side of the ball, the Orioles managed to rack up just 3 hits against Darryl Kile and 3 St. Louis relievers, and scored their only run on a Eugene Kingsale groundout in the ninth, driving in Mike Kinkade, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch. Jay Gibbons had the Orioles' only extra base hit, a double. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Chad Paronto, longshot for the last bullpen slot: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 K.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 1-2.
Fernando Lunar, watching his average plunge: 0-0.
Infield
Mike Kinkade: 0-0, HBP, run scored.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 0-3.
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 1-1.
Jay Gibbons, 1B/DH: 1-4, 2B.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF, who may play first if Segui is hurt: 0-3.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-1, RBI.
Melvin Mora, CF: 0-3.

For an update on how all these players are doing, and how the fight for jobs is shaping up, see our Roster Notes.... Other roster notes: Lots of health issues: Cal Ripken (rib) is expected to play on Saturday, but it's unclear whether he can get enough playing time to be ready for the season. 1B David Segui (hamstring) still hasn't played, and isn't expected to for several more days. LHP Buddy Groom (back) and 2B/LF Delino DeShields (knee) are both day-to-day. DeShields suffered his knee injury in a home plate collision on Thursday.

Next game: Saturday, 1 PM vs. Los Angeles at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: John Bale (start), with Calvin Maduro, Alan Mills, Ryan Kohlmeier and Jorge Julio to follow, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Note: The Royals inked OF Trenidad Hubbard, released by the Orioles early in the offseason, to a minor league contract.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 23
Grapefruit League: Splits

Spring Training Notes

Splits all around, as the Orioles split the split-squad games they played on Thursday. Against the Cardinals, Chuck McElroy was excellent in his longest outing of the spring, throwing 5 innings and allowing just 1 run on four hits, and Jeff Conine homered and drove in three runs, leading the Orioles to a 4-2 victory. Calvin Maduro contributed two scoreless innings and BJ Ryan added one of his own, while Brady Anderson, Chris Richard, and Jerry Hairston had multihit games. Six of the Orioles' 11 hits went for extra bases. Jorge Julio, the brainrust's latest spring training obsession, almost blew the lead in the ninth, giving up 3 hits and a run (while striking out two) before stopping the Cardinals for a save.
Against the Twins, Willis Roberts was even more impressive, throwing 5 scoreless innings, allowing jst 4 hits and a walk, while Jay Gibbons homered and drove in two runs. The Orioles scored 5 runs by recording 15 hits, including two triples, as Eugene Kingsale (3 hits), Delino DeShields, Brook Fordyce and Gibbons all had multihit games. However, a couple of Oriole pitchers who won't make the major league roster -- Jimmy Hamilton and Shawn Babula -- gave up 6 runs in just 1 1/3 innings of work, so the Orioles fell to the Twins, 6-5. (Cardinals Boxscore and Twins Boxscore).

Pitchers
Chuck McElroy, fighting for the last starting spot: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
Willis Roberts, also fighting for the last starting spot: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K.
John Bale, lefty bullpen candidate, if McElroy starts: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R.
Calvin Maduro, bullpen candidate: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
B.J. Ryan, bullpen candidate: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
Jorge Julio, bullpen candidate: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 K.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar, watching his average plunge: 0-4.
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 1-4, 2B.
Infield
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 1-2, HR, SF, run scored, 3 RBI.
Mike Kinkade: 0-4.
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 0-3.
Jay Gibbons, 1B/DH: 2-4, HR, run scored, 2 RBI.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF, who may play first if Segui is hurt: 2-4, 2B.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 3-4, SB, RBI, 2 runs scored.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI.

Roster notes: The final rotation slot still hasn't been resolved, as both Chuck McElroy and Willis Roberts had excellent starts, and could very well come down to their last starts. And until that battle is resolved, LHP John Bale doesn't know whether he'll be in the bullpen or in Rochester. LHP Buddy Groom is suffering back spasms, and might not be available for the next few days. 3B Cal Ripken is expected to start on Saturday for the first time this spring.

Next game: Friday, 1 PM vs. St. Louis at Jupiter. Scheduled to pitch: Pat Hentgen, Chad Paronto, B.J. Ryan and, if health permits, Buddy Groom. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Ex-O Notes: The Yankees released pitcher Scott Kamieniecki, who they had invited to spring training as a non-roster player earlier this offseason, and the Dodgers sent pitcher Doug Linton to the minors. In addition, the Expos sent 3B Ryan Minor, and pitchers Terry Burrows and Bobby Munoz to the minors.

See our two part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings and Roster Musings: Pitchers, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/19-3/20)

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 22
Grapefruit League - Game 20

Spring Training Notes

If there was any doubt about his winning a job going into yesterday's game, there isn't anymore. Jason Johnson had yet another strong outing, going 6 innings while allowing just one run on a solo homer in the sixth. Meanwhile Brady Anderson homered, three relievers combined to allow 1 run over the final 3 innings, and Jerry Hairston scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 Oriole victory over the Montreal Expos. Brian Roberts had a 2-hit game, and the Orioles recorded 10 hits and 4 walks. Former Oriole Mike Johnson pitched a scoreless inning for the Expos, while Ryan Minor went 0-2 for them. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jason Johnson, winning a job: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 K, 1 HR.
Alan Mills, making his first appearance of the spring: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R.
Calvin Maduro, bullpen candidate: 1 IP, 2 H.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar, watching his average plunge: 0-1, HBP, Error.
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 1-2.
Infield
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF, making the most of his opportunity: 2-4, 2B, CS.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 0-0.
Jay Gibbons, 1B/DH: 1-4, SB, run scored.
Mike Kinkade: 1-4, 2B.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF, who may play first if Segui is hurt: 0-3.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 1-3, SB.
Melvin Mora, CF: 0-3, SF, RBI.

For an update on how all these players are doing, and how the fight for jobs is shaping up, see our Roster Notes.... Other roster notes: Jay Gibbons is back from his injuries, but David Segui is still out, and expected to be out for at least another few days. Barring a disaster, Jason Johnson has won the fourth starter job, although manager Mike Hargrove won't make it official. Cal Ripken hopes to appear in a game this Saturday, while Alan Mills had a successful spring debut.

Next games: Two split squad games on Thursday, 1 PM. The first vs. St. Louis at Ft. Lauderdale, and the second vs. Minnesota at Ft. Myers. (Spring training Gamelog.)

See the second part of our two-part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/20)

And part one of that column, where we share our thoughts about the position players on the roster.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 21
Grapefruit League, Game 19: Final Stretch

Spring Training Notes

What do you get when you cross errors with bad pitching? Hint: it isn't pretty. Sidney Ponson got knocked around badly, giving up 10 hits (including 2 home runs) and 7 runs in just four innings of work, walking three and striking out five. He seemingly got flustered after the defense made several errors. BJ Ryan and Jorge Julio came in to slam the door after that for three innings, allowing the Orioles to come back and tie the game. Brook Fordyce homered and drove in two runs in a multihit game, and Brian Roberts, Delino DeShields, Brady Anderson, and Chris Richard also had multihit games, as the Orioles racked up 11 hits and 7 runs of their own. Unfortunately, Buddy Groom ruined the comeback by getting blasted for 6 hits and 5 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Orioles lost to the Dodgers, 12-7. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
B.J. Ryan, who is probably guaranteed a bullpen role: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 K.
Jorge Julio, phenom-from-nowhere? bullpen candidate: 1 IP, 1 K.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 0-2.
Infield
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF, making the most of his opportunity: 2-2, R, RBI.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 0-3, with an error and generally crappy fielding at 3B.
Mike Kinkade: 0-2.
Outfield
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, SB.
Chris Richard, RF, who may play first if Segui is hurt: 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-1, run scored.
Melvin Mora, CF: 0-3.

For an update on how all these players are doing, and how the fight for jobs is shaping up, see our Roster Notes.... Other Roster notes: Jay Gibbons is presently sidelined with minor injuries, and David Segui is still not back from his hamstring strain. Cal Ripken took his first batting practice swings on Tuesday, and announced that he thought everything was fine -- but he doesn't plan to making any diving plays on defense until the regular season begins, which reveals the truth about the state of his back far more than any press release could do. Meanwhile, Alan Mills is scheduled to make his first pitching appearance today.

Next game: Wednesday, 1 PM, vs. Montreal at Ft. Lauderdale. Jason Johnson is scheduled to start, with Alan Mills and Mike Trombley also expected to pitch. (Spring training Gamelog.)

See the second part of our two-part Bricks from the Warehouse column, Roster Musings, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made. (3/20)

And part one of that column, where we share our thoughts about the position players on the roster.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 19
Grapefruit League: Game 18

Spring Training Notes

Well, the conventional wisdom is that pitching is ahead of hitting in spring training, and so far the Orioles' exhibition season seems to bear that out. Pat Hentgen went 6 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out one, becoming the first Oriole pitcher to throw six innings this spring. Offensively, though, the Orioles struggled, as Rangers journeymen Doug Davis and Pat Mahomes combined to hold the team to one unearned run. Fortunately, relievers Calvin Maduro and Chad Paronto chipped in the last three innings of a combined shutout, which was enough for the Orioles to eke out a 1-0 victory over Texas. The staff allowed just 6 hits - 5 of them singles - and 2 walks. Offensively, Mike Bordick had three hits and Delino DeShields had two, but the rest of the offense combined for 3 singles, and it took a Jeff Conine single with one out in the bottom of the ninth to plate pinch-runner Eugene Kingsale and seal the win. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Calvin Maduro, bullpen candidate: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
Chad Paronto, bullpen candidate: 1 IP, 2 H.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 0-1.
Infield
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 0-1.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 1-3, RBI.
Mike Kinkade, hitting his way to a roster spot: 0-4.
Outfield
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 2-4, CS.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-0, run scored.
Chris Richard, RF: 1-3, SB, sac bunt, also an error playing 1B.
Melvin Mora, CF: 0-3.

Roster notes: The Orioles optioned RHPs Leslie Brea, John Parrish, Jay Spurgeon, and Josh Towers, and IF Ivanon Coffie to Rochester, and sent IFs Steve Sisco and Ed Rogers, and C Willie Morales to minor league camp for reassignment. For our Transactions Breakdown....

Monday is an off day. Next game: Tuesday, 1 PM, vs. Los Angeles at Vero Beach. Sidney Ponson is scheduled to start. (Spring training Gamelog.)

See our new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we share our thoughts about the roster decisions to be made.

It's easy to see that the loss of Albert Belle is going to hurt the Orioles' offense. But how bad is that offense actually going to be in 2001? An article in the Baseball Prospectus addresses that question using their own unique statistical take on these matters.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent. (3/6)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 18
Grapefruit League: Midpoint

Spring Training Notes

The Orioles got strong performances from most of their pitchers, but were swept in two split-squad games on Saturday which exposed the lack of offensive depth in the organization. Against the Mets, Jay Spurgeon, pitching for the first time in 11 days, had his first effective outing of the spring, going 4 innings of scoreless, 1 hit ball. Ryan Kohlmeier was strong in finishing the game with a perfect ninth, striking out one. Unfortunately, in between those two appearances, last year's hope John Parrish pitched 3 innings, including one in which he allowed 3 straight hits, the last being a 3-run homer by Robin Ventura. Meanwhile, a punchless "B" lineup managed just 4 hits and 1 walk off Mets pitcher Glendon Rusch and 3 relievers, with the team's only run coming on a Melvin Mora home run, his second of the spring, and the Orioles dropped the game, 3-1.
Against the Cardinals, journeyman-from-nowhere Willis Roberts pitched 3 shutout innings of 1-hit ball, striking out five. The Orioles other pitching candidates from out of left field weren't so effective, however, as John Bale and Jorge Julio gave up 4 runs in a combined 3 2/3 innings of work, with Julio giving up the Cardinals' go-ahead run in the ninth inning after the Orioles had tied the game in the eighth. Meanwhile, the offense managed some scattered hits (9), but couldn't put them together, and the Orioles lost, 4-3. (Mets Boxscore and Cardinals Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jay Spurgeon, a longshot contender for a starting role, having a good outing (But is it too late?): 4 IP, 1 H, 1 K.
John Parrish, a fading rotation contender: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 3-run homer.
Ryan Kohlmeier, solidifying his closer job: 1 IP, 1 K.
Willis Roberts, suprise rotation candidate, strengthened his chances, though he needs to increase the length of his outings to have a chance: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K.
John Bale, a leading candidate for a lefty bullpen role, hurt his chances: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 unearned runs, 3 BB, 2 K. That the runs were unearned doesn't help him much, because he made the error.
Jorge Julio, absurd reliever candidate: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, WP.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Greg Myers, identified as probable trade bait: 1-3.
Willie Morales: 0-0.
Fernando Lunar: 0-4 to drop to .143.
Infield
Jay Gibbons, 1B/DH, suffering a setback: 0-3, and his second error at 1B.
Ivanon Coffie, Rochester 3Bman: 0-3.
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 1-3, 2 SB, run scored.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 1-3, SB.
Mike Kinkade, hitting his way to a roster spot: 1-3, 2B, RBI, SF.
Ed Rogers, SS of the future?: 0-4, error.
Outfield
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 2-4.
Melvin Mora, CF: 1-3, HR, RBI, run scored.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI.
Chris Richard, RF: 0-3.

Roster notes: Another round of roster cuts are expected on Sunday. Cal Ripken is expected to take live batting practice within a day or two, witth the hopes of returning to the exhibition lineup in a week. He took fielding practice on Saturday and showed no ill effects from his fractured rib, but how he responds to actual game play is still in question. Expect him to be in the lineup on Opening Day -- ready or not -- unless he's hit by a bus, though. David Segui, recovering from a pulled hamstring, is not expected to return to the lineup for at least another 3-4 days.

Ex-O note: Bad OF Trenidad Hubbard, who was acquired by the Orioles last July from the Braves in the B.J. Surhoff deal and who was then released in the offseason, was released by Toronto.

Next game: Sunday, 1 PM, vs. Texas at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: Pat Hentgen, and then Calvin Maduro, Chad Paronto, Buddy Groom and Ryan Kohlmeier, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

It's easy to see that the loss of Albert Belle is going to hurt the Orioles' offense. But how bad is that offense actually going to be in 2001? An article in the Baseball Prospectus addresses that question using their own unique statistical take on these matters.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 17
Grapefruit League: Day 15

Spring Training Notes

Jason Johnson went five innings for the first time this spring, having his third strong outing in four starts, Brady Anderson hit his first homer of the spring, and the Orioles hung on to beat the New York Mets, 5-4. The Orioles recorded three doubles and Brady's homer among their 12 hits, but relied on Mike Kinkade's hustle to score a key run in the sixth inning. Kinkade also chipped in two hits, and Brady Anderson and Mike Bordick also had multihit games; the only downside: the Orioles failed to draw a single walk. Pitchingwise, Chad Paronto, Calvin Maduro, and B.J. Ryan combined to pitch three innings without allowing an earned run, though Mike Trombley was touched for one in the ninth before shutting down the Mets for a save. Jay Gibbons did not play on Friday for the first time this spring. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jason Johnson, who is a leading contender for a starting slot but who manager Mike Hargrove warned is not guaranteed anything: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 1 WP.
Chad Paronto, a leading contender for a bullpen role: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K.
Calvin Maduro, contending for another bullpen slot: 1 IP, 1 K.
B.J. Ryan, hoping not to lose the bullpen slot he has been given: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 unearned run allowed.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar, apparently being handed the backup catcher slot despite an inability to hit: 0-1.
Infield
Mike Kinkade, hitting his way to a roster spot: 2-4, 2B, run scored.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 1-4, 2B, RBI.
Brian Roberts, potential utility IF: 0-0, made an error which led to an unearned run for the Mets.
Ivanon Coffie, Rochester 3Bman: 1-3, 2B, RBI.
Outfield
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 1-4, run scored.
Melvin Mora, CF: 1-4, run scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-0.

Roster notes: Cal Ripken still hasn't taken batting practice, but he's expected to be ready to play in a week, which would give him one week's worth of spring training games. Ripken, however, has stated that he needs two weeks to prepare himself, so his Opening Day readiness is questionable. Of course, the Orioles might well decide to carry him anyway, because GM Syd Thrift has demonstrated a habit in recent years of retaining injured veterans on the roster. Alan Mills' Opening Day readiness is also in doubt. David Segui is still shut down from his pulled hamstring. And finally, utility infielder Steve Sisco has been battling a pulled muscle in his side, and has been unable to play shortstop, and now is unable to play at all.

Ex-O note: RHRP Gabe Molina, who was traded by the Orioles last July to the Braves in the B.J. Surhoff deal and who was then released by the Braves in the offseason, was sent by the Marlins to minor league camp for reassignment.

Next game: Two split squad games, both Saturday, 1 PM. The first vs. St. Louis at Ft. Lauderdale, and the other vs. the Mets at Port St. Lucie. Scheduled to pitch: Willis Roberts vs. the Cardinals and Jay Spurgeon and John Parrish vs. the Mets. (Spring training Gamelog.)

It's easy to see that the loss of Albert Belle is going to hurt the Orioles' offense. But how bad is that offense actually going to be in 2001? An article in the Baseball Prospectus addresses that question using their own unique statistical take on these matters.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 16
Grapefruit League: Day 14

Spring Training Notes

Jose Mercedes struggled with the unimpressive Twins lineup, giving up four runs in his five innings of work, but the Orioles bailed him out by pounding on the Twins' pitching staff to the tune of 12 runs on 18 hits, including 3 doubles and 3 home runs. Mike Kinkade was responsible for two of the home runs, and Brian Roberts chipped in the other. Josh Towers picked up the slack in the pitching department, giving his first 4 inning outing of the spring while allowing just one run. Chris Richard and Delino DeShields provided 3-hit games, while Kinkade, Eugene Kingsale, Jeff Conine, and Greg Myers added two-hit games of their own, and the Orioles crushed the Twins, 12-5. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jose Mercedes, having a setback: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 K, and a HR.
Josh Towers, making a strong impression: 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, and the save.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar, stiff: 0-1 as a pinch hitter.
Greg Myers, apparent trade bait: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R.
Infield
Mike Kinkade, hitting his way to a roster spot: 2-5, 2 R, 5 RBI, and 2 home runs.
Jay Gibbons, 1B, not quite as hot as before but still hitting: 1-3, double, run scored.
Ed Rogers, SS and The Next Alex Rodriguez in Fantasyland: 0-1.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 2-3, 2B, run scored.
Brian Roberts, making a bid to be the utility IF this season: 1-2, HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs scored, and 2 walks.
Ivanon Coffie, Rochester 3Bman: 0-2, run scored.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF: 3-4.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 3-5, 2B, RBI, run scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 2-4, run scored, RBI, but also a CS.

Next game: Froday, 1 PM, vs. the Mets at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: Jason Johnson, B.J. Ryan, Chad Paronto, Calvin Maduro and Mike Trombley. (Spring training Gamelog.)

It's easy to see that the loss of Albert Belle is going to hurt the Orioles' offense. But how bad is that offense actually going to be in 2001? An article in the Baseball Prospectus addresses that question using their own unique statistical take on these matters.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 15
Grapefruit League - Day 13

Spring Training Notes

The Orioles reverted to their early spring training form on Wednesday, playing a squeaker decided in the late innings. Sidney Ponson was dominant, throwing 5 innings without allowing an earned run or walking a batter, and striking out five. Meanwhile, except for a home run given up by Ryan Kohlmeier, the bullpen was near-perfect, as Buddy Groom, Calvin Maduro, Leslie Brea, and Jorge Julio combined to pitch 3 innings of one hit ball, allowing no walks and striking out five. Unfortunately, the Orioles' offense struggled, as the Orioles recorded no home runs and just two extra base hits, and scored just 3 runs. Still, thanks to Ponson, it was enough, and the Orioles managed to eke out a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos. Former Oriole farmhand Terry Burrows took the loss for Montreal when Mike Kinkade reached and his pinch-runner replacement Brian Roberts was moved around the bases with little ball tactics. The Orioles also traded beanballs with the Expos in the ninth, with Burrows hitting Mike Kinkade and Brea hitting Ex-O Ryan Minor. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Sidney Ponson, making a bid to be considered the #1 starter: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 unearned R, 5 K.
Ryan Kohlmeier, probable closer: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R on a game-tying HR
Calvin Maduro, making a rare appearance: 1 IP, 1 K, recorded the Win.
Leslie Fake ID Brea: 2/3 IP, 2 strikeouts, one hit allowed, and one HBP.
Jorge Julio, making a strong impression: 1 batter faced, 1 game-ending strikeout.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, playing RF and demonstrating even more versatility: 0-3.
Willie Morales, stiff: 0-0 as a pinch hitter.
Infield
Jay Gibbons, 1B: 0-0.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH/Trade Bait: 2-4, 2B, R, RBI, and another error at third.
Ed Rogers, The Next Alex Rodriguez in Fantasyland: 1-4, RBI, CS.
Brian Roberts, pinch running: SB, Run scored
Steve Sisco, possible utility infielder: 0-1 as a pinch hitter.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF: 1-4, error.
Melvin Mora, CF: 2-3, RBI.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-0.

Next game: Thursday, 1 PM, vs. Minnesota at Ft. Myers. Scheduled to pitch: Jose Mercedes and Josh Towers. (Spring training Gamelog.)

It's easy to see that the loss of Albert Belle is going to hurt the Orioles' offense. But how bad is that offense actually going to be in 2001? An article in the Baseball Prospectus addresses that question using their own unique statistical take on these matters.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 14
Grapefruit League-Day 12

Spring Training Notes

For the fourth straight day, the Orioles participated in a blowout. For the second time in that span, the Orioles ended up on the losing end. Starter Pat Hentgen was pounded for three home runs (including one by former Oriole farmhand B.J. Waszgis) in his four innings of work, allowing a total of 4 runs on 5 hits while striking out noone. The rest of the Orioles' staff was no better, as every pitcher to appear -- Chuck McElroy, Chad Paronto, John Bale, and Mike Trombley -- gave up at least one run. Offensively, Mike Kinkade continued his hot spring with his third home run, a 2-run shot in the first, and chipped in another hit later. However, despite 9 other hits (including 2 doubles) and a walk, the Orioles managed just one more run all day, and lost badly to the Marlins, 10-3. In addition to Kinkade, Greg Myers and Chris Richard also had multihit games, but it wasn't enough, and the Orioles fell to 8-4. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Chuck McElroy, rotation candidate: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 K.
Chad Paronto, bullpen possibility: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 unearned run, 1 K.
John Bale, potential bullpen lefty: 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R.
Mike Trombley, trying to ensure that Kohlmeier keeps the closer role: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 HBP, 1 HR allowed.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, playing LF and demonstrating versatility: 2-4 with 2 RBI, 1 R, and his team-leading third HR.
Greg Myers, making the most of limited playing time: 2-3.
Willie Morales, stiff: 0-1.
Infield
Jay Gibbons, DH: 1-3, 2B, run scored.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH, possibly trade bait, playing 1B: 1-4, run scored.
Ed Rogers, The Next Alex Rodriguez in Fantasyland: 0-4, error.
Brian Roberts, playing 2B as a future utility infielder: 1-4, 2B.
Ivanon Coffie, future utility infielder playing 3B: 0-0.
Outfield
Chris Richard, RF: 2-3, SB, 1 run scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 1-4.

Next game: Wednesday, 1 PM, vs. Montreal at Jupiter. Scheduled to pitch: Sidney Ponson, Buddy Groom, Jorge Julio, Ryan Kohlmeier and Leslie Brea. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Roster notes: the stories of this camp still revolve around injuries. It would be tempting to blame it on the age of this team, but plenty of young players have gotten hurt, too. The current list of questionable players includes Cal Ripken, David Segui, Mark Nussbeck, Luis Matos, and Alan Mills. Ripken, of course, is coming back from a broken rib suffered in mid-February, and picked up a bat for the first time this spring. He hasn't yet faced live pitching, however, and it's not clear whether he'll be ready by opening day. Matos had surgery on his separated shoulder, and could be out three months -- or the whole year. Nussbeck, just optioned to Rochester, had surgery to repair a "slight tear" of his rotator cuff. Mills still hasn't come back fully from his shoulder surgery last September, and hasn't yet been cleared to pitch by doctors, so his opening day availablity is also questionable. Segui on Monday reinjured the hamstring he had pulled at the beginning of camp, and could be out anywhere from several days to a week. And, that doesn't even count the players out for the year (or in one case, even longer): Matt Riley, Albert Belle, Luis Rivera, Pat Gorman, and Scott Erickson.

President George W. Bush has announced that he will be throwing out the first ball at the Rangers' season opener in Puerto Rico, rather than at Camden Yards. No reason was given for the decision; some have speculated that it is because Orioles' owner Peter Angelos is an ardent Democrat (who, according to Bob Costas, insulted George Bush). On the other hand, Bush formerly owned the Rangers, giving him a connection to the team.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 13
Grapefruit League, Day 11: Continued Success

Spring Training Notes

For the second straight day, the Orioles' bats unloaded on opposing pitching, as the Orioles used a seven-run fourth inning to overwhelm the Marlins, 11-4. Jason Johnson had his first rough outing of the spring, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out just 1, in his four innings of work, but was bailed out by the offense. Delino DeShields, Chris Richard, Brook Fordyce, and Jerry Hairston all had multihit games, and DeShields drove in 3 runs to pace the Orioles' attack. Meanwhile, BJ Ryan, Buddy Groom, and Ryan Kohlmeier each contributed a scoreless inning of work, combining to allow just 1 hit. On the down side, Willis Roberts, hoping for that fifth starter slot, was touched for a run on two hits and a walk in his two innings of work. Add it up, and the Orioles ran their record to an impressive, if unimportant, 8-3. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jason Johnson, for whom a rotation slot is his to lose: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP.
B.J. Ryan: 1 scoreless IP
Willis Roberts, alleged starter candidate: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.
Ryan Kohlmeier: 1 scoreless IP to end the game.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, playing third on Mondayr: 1-2, with a SB, and a run scored.
Fernando Lunar, stiff: 1-2, scored a run.
Infield
Jay Gibbons, in his first bad outing of the spring: 0-3, scored a run.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH, possibly trade bait, playing 3B: 0-2, plus an error in the field.
Outfield
Melvin Mora, likely starting CF: 0-2, run scored.
Chris Richard, RF: 2-4, 2 runs scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 1-2.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 2-4, 2B, SB, run scored, 3 RBI.

Next game: Tuesday, 1 PM, vs. Florida. Scheduled to pitch: Pat Hentgen, and some of Chuck McElroy, John Bale, Chad Paronto, Mike Trombley, Calvin Maduro and Rick Huisman, as needed. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Roster notes: pitcher Mark Nussbeck, who hasn't pitched because of injury, was among the players cut on Monday. Nussbeck, and pitchers Sean Douglass and Juan Figueroa, were optioned to Rochester. Juan "The Other" Guzman was optioned to Bowie. Rick Huisman, Miguel Felix, Carlos Casimiro, Wady Almonte and Adan "Not a Typo" Amezcua were all sent to minor league camp for reassignment. These were the "easy cuts," as they were all players who knew they had no chance of sticking with the big league club. Later will come the tougher decisions.

Ex-O Notes: St. Louis cut Mike Figga, Heathcliff Slocumb, Jim Corsi, and Rick Krivda, sending them to minor league camp for reassignment.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 12
Grapefruit League, Day 10

Spring Training Notes

A day after getting pounded by the Rangers 10-2, the Orioles returned the favor against the Red Sox. Jose Mercedes continued his impressive spring, stretching out to 5 innings while giving up just 2 runs on 4 hits, walking nobody and striking out two. And the bullpen chipped in with 4 scoreless innings, though 3 of them were by pitchers (Jorge Julio and Miguel Felix) unlikely to make the opening day roster. Meanwhile, the offense was unstoppable, thanks in large part to David Segui's two home runs. Chris Richard also contributed a homer, and the Orioles added 4 more doubles on their way to a 10-2 victory. Mike Trombley finished the game, possibly foreshadowing his assumption of the closer role from Ryan Kohlmeier by the youthaphobic Orioles. (Boxscore).

Pitchers
Jose Mercedes: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 massive 2-run HR allowed
Jorge Julio: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Miguel Felix: 1 scoreless IP, 1 BB, 1 HBP.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, out-of-options and needing to make the roster: 1-1, with a 2B, a SB, and 2 runs scored.
Willie Morales, hitless for the spring: 0-1
Infield
Jay Gibbons: 0-0, and having played in every game.
Jose Leon, minor league 3Bman: 0-0.
Ed Rogers, prized SS prospect: 0-1.
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH, possibly trade bait: 0-4.
Steve Sisco utility infielder: 0-1.
Brian Roberts, future utility infielder: 1-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI.
Outfield
Melvin Mora, prohibitive favorite to be starting CF: 1-4, 2B, run scored.
Chris Richard, RF: 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 runs scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-1.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 1-5, RBI.
Carlos Casimiro, AAA roster filler: 0-0.

Next game: Monday, 7 PM, vs. Florida. Scheduled to pitch: Jason Johnson, B.J. Ryan, Buddy Groom, Willis Roberts and Ryan Kohlmeier. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Roster notes: The first set of roster cuts are expected today, but Mike Hargrove played coy when asked about them. Cal Ripken may join the lineup for the first time this spring.

A Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 10
Grapefruit League Day 8

Spring Training Notes

For the first time since spring training began, the Orioles' starting pitcher got knocked around a bit, as Chuck McElroy gave up 2 runs in 3 innings, on a 2-run homer by Marquis Grissom in the second. (McElroy was the first starter to give up more than 1 run this spring.) After that, though, he settled down, and he, Jorge Julio, and John Bale combined for six scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Orioles scored five runs through 8 innings to take a 5-2 lead, thanks in part to home runs by Greg Myers and Jose Leon. David Segui and Chris Richard also contributed 2 hits each. Unfortunately, in the ninth inning, BJ Ryan fell apart, giving up 3 hits and 2 walks, and ultimately a grand slam, leading to 5 total runs, and the Orioles lost to Los Angeles, 7-6, for their second loss of the spring. Ex-O Gregg Olson recorded the win for the Dodgers, and ex-O Doug Linton recorded the save by inducing Brian Roberts to hit into a double play, though not before allowing the Orioles a run on a Jay Gibbons sacrifice fly to make the final score closer. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
Chuck McElroy, rotation hopeful: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 massive 2-run HR allowed
Jorge Julio, minor league journeyman: 2 IP, 1 H
John Bale, hoping for a bullpen job: 3 IP, 1 hit, 2 BB, 2 K
B.J. Ryan, not helping his case, which should be a sure thing, for a bullpen job: 1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 K, Wild Pitch, Grand Slam allowed.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Greg Myers: 1-3, including a solo home run.
Willie Morales, non-roster player: 0-0
Infield
Jay Gibbons: 0-0, hit a sacrifice fly to drive in a run
Jose Leon, minor league 3Bman: 1-3, solo home run.
Ed Rogers, prized SS prospect: 0-1
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH, possibly trade bait: 1-1
Ivanon Coffie, possible utility infielder: 0-0.
Brian Roberts, future utility infielder: 0-2, run scored.
Outfield
Melvin Mora, prohibitive favorite to be starting CF: 1-4
Chris Richard, RF: 2-4, stolen base.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 0-1.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 1-3, run scored.

Next game: Saturday, 1 PM, vs. Texas at Port Charlotte. Scheduled to pitch: Sidney Ponson, Josh Towers, Sean Douglass, Chad Paronto and Calvin Maduro. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Roster notes: The Orioles are trying out 35-year old major league veteran Jim Bullinger, who hasn't pitched since 1998. Ostensibly this is for a minor league job, but with the Orioles, who knows? After all, is giving him a major league job any sillier than putting him on Rochester's roster? Monday is expected to be the first day of roster cuts from the major league camp.

A new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 9
Grapefruit League, Day 7: Belle Retires

Spring Training Notes

Anticlimactic doesn't even begin to describe it. After the offseason buildup, the physical which Albert Belle supposedly passed before spring training began, after the announcements that he would be in the next day's lineup, and then the morning retractions of those announcements, the rumors, the medical opinions by non-medical personnel, it's over. It's all over. Belle's career as a major league ballplayer is over. It's about as official as it can be without seeing Belle on a beach in the Caribbean sipping drinks with an umbrella. Whether Belle is considered disabled or retired or released, he will no longer be playing major league ball.

The Orioles got back on their winning streak on Thursday evening, defeating the New York Mets, 4-1. Jeff Conine hit a bases-loaded triple, and... stop me if you've already heard this one: a strong performance from a starter. Four shutout innings from Jason Johnson, of all people, and the other pitchers combined for 5 innings of 2-hit, 1-run ball. The only negative note: four errors. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
Jason Johnson, making a strong bid for another chance in the rotation: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP
Willis Roberts, minor league journeyman: 2 IP, 3 K
Chad Paronto, hoping for a bullpen job: 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 4 K
Calvin Maduro, longshot non-roster candidate: Save, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar: 0-0
Infield
Jay Gibbons: 1-1 and a stolen base. This kid is hot.
Steve Sisco, veteran hoping to win the utility IF job: 0-1, error.
Ed Rogers, prized SS prospect: 0-0
Jeff Conine, 1B/3B/LF/RF/DH: 1-3, 3-run triple, also an error.
Outfield
Melvin Mora, prohibitive favorite to be starting CF: 1-2, SB
Chris Richard, RF who figures to gain much playing time in RF: 0-3, run scored.
Eugene Kingsale, fourth OF: 1-2, 2B.
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: playing DH, went 0-4, stole a base, scored a run.
Carlos Casimiro, nonprospect: 0-0.

Next game: Friday, 1 PM, vs. the Dodgers at Ft. Lauderdale. Scheduled to pitch: Chuck McElroy, John Bale, Juan Figueroa, B.J. Ryan and Rick Huisman. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Roster notes: Luis Matos needs surgery of some sort on the shoulder he separated, and might miss the whole season, or maybe just 4-6 weeks. Monday is expected to be the first day of roster cuts from the major league camp.

A new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 8
Grapefruit League, Game 6

Spring Training Notes

For the sixth straight day, the Orioles got a strong performance from their starting pitcher -- this time, Jose Mercedes, who stretched to four innings and allowed just 1 run on 4 hits, while striking out 4. But unlike the first five days, it wasn't enough, and the Orioles lost a poorly played game to the Cardinals, 9-8 in 10 innings. The two teams combined for seven errors, and every Oriole pitcher after Mercedes did a poor job. Offensively, the Orioles finally put up a few extra base hits (two doubles and two homers), but kept trading the lead back-and-forth with St. Louis. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
John Parrish rotation candidate, again struggled with his control: 11.1 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 R, WP
Jorge Julio, minor league journeyman: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R
Ryan Kohlmeier, who has the closer job to lose: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R
Leslie/Lesli Fake ID Brea, rotation candidate, particularly with Rivera out: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 3 R, 2 K
Rick Huisman, veteran non-roster journeyman hoping to earn a bullpen slot: Faced one batter, gave up game-losing hit.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, playing catcher: 1-2 with his team-leading second HR of the spring, a 2-run shot.
Greg Myers, disgruntled backup catcher candidate: 1-3, with a run scored, and an error in the field.
Infield
Jay Gibbons, playing LF (which will enhance his attractiveness to the team if he can do it): 0-2 for his first hitless game.
Ivanon Coffie, utility candidate, starting at 3B: 1-4.
Steve Sisco, veteran hoping to win the utility IF job, enhanced his chances greatly by going 2-2 with a double and 2-run homer, recording 1 R and 3 RBI
Ed Rogers, prized SS prospect: 0-4, SB, Error, Run scored
Outfield
Melvin Mora, probable starting CF: 2-3, 2 R, 2B
Chris Richard, who figures to gain much playing time in RF if Belle retires: 0-1
Wady Almonte, AAA roster filler/5th outfielder: 0-1
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 0-3
Carlos Casimiro, nonprospect: 0-1, minor league IF again playing the OF. Apparently the Orioles have decided to move him. We guess.

Injury news: Luis Rivera, one of the Orioles' few prospects, and the only one the Orioles acquired in last season's trade-deadline firesale, is out for the year after an examination showed a tear in his right shoulder. Rivera, who was acquired from Atlanta in the B.J. Surhoff trade, was injured when he was with Atlanta and after he came to the Baltimore organization. General Manager Syd Thrift failed to look at Rivera's medical records before making the deal, an act of inexcusable negligence.
Meanwhile, Luis Matos had an MRI on his injured shoulder, but no results were announced.
Finally, there was no official Albert Belle news on Wednesday, but in the sports world, when there's no news, people just create rumors. The Belle rumor of the day is that his medically-induced retirement may be officially announced on Thursday. Technically, he would be on the disabled list rather than the retired list, but the effect is the same.

Next game: Thursday, 7 PM, vs. the Mets at Ft. Lauderdale. (Spring training Gamelog.)

A new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 7
Grapefruit League Day 5

Spring Training Notes

If only someone could convince us that spring training games signified something about a team's season, we'd be delirious with joy right now, because after five Grapefruit League games, the Orioles are undefeated. They won their fifth in a row on Tuesday, defeating the Montreal Expos in another close game, 7-6. No, this isn't an echo: the Orioles got another strong performance from their starting pitcher. This time the credit goes to Josh Towers, who pitched 3 innings of 1-run ball. But the big, feelgood story of the game was Montreal non-roster invitee and future Hall Of Famer Tim Raines. Raines (2-3 w/ RBI), and Oriole farmhand Tim Raines Jr. (1-2 R, RBI), got to face off against each other as leadoff hitters. "Little Rock," as the son is known, is scheduled to be sent to the minors soon, but as a favor to him, he was allowed to fulfill a dream and play in a game with his father. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
Josh Towers, candidate for the 5th starter role: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Jay Spurgeon, in his second straight rocky outing of the spring, didn't do himself any favors in a crowded field of rotation contenders: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K, and a 2-run HR
Sean Douglass, projected for Rochester: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
The Other Juan Guzman: 1 hitless, scoreless inning for the save, but 2 walks.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Mike Kinkade, starting at third and then moving to catcher: 0-1
Infield
Jay Gibbons, DHing, hitting well, and praying Belle can't make it: 1-4, 3 RBI.
Jeff Conine, ostensible trade bait: 2-4, 3B, run scored.
Ivanon Coffie, utility candidate: 0-1.
Brian Roberts, scrappy infielder of the future: 1-1, run scored.
Carlos Casimiro, nonprospect: 0-1, again playing the OF. Have the Orioles decided to move him?
Outfield
Luis Matos, potential 4th outfielder: 0-0, HBP, SB, CS, separated shoulder
Eugene Kingsale, injury-prone 4th outfielder: 1-3, 2 runs scored
Wady Almonte, AAA roster filler/5th outfielder: 0-3
Delino DeShields, LF/Trade Bait: 0-2, CS

Once again, the Albert Belle story overshadows the game (which was, after all, only an exhibition game), but it appears to be nearing a finale; the Orioles aren't even pretending that Belle might play on Wednesday, and there are reports that Belle is ready to hang it up. Belle still has to talk to doctors -- the Orioles' team doctor and another -- and nothing has been decided yet, according to Belle's agent, but at this point, it's hard to imagine that Belle will continue. If he gracefully steps aside now, he gets his full salary, most of it paid for by insurance.

Orioles outfielder Luis Matos dislocated his non-throwing shoulder sliding into third base in the third ining, and is scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday to determine how serious the injury is. While this is unfortunate for Matos, who would like to make an impression on Orioles management, he was probably scheduled for the minors no matter what. In any case, Matos has shown little to suggest he will ever be a major league hitter, so it unlikely to have any impact on the Orioles.

A new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Next game: Wednesday, 1 PM, vs. St. Louis at Jupiter. Jose Mercedes, John Parrish, Ryan Kohlmeier and Jorge Julio are scheduled to pitch. (Spring training Gamelog.)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 6
Grapefruit League, Day 4



Spring Training Notes

Too bad these games don't count, because the Orioles won their fourth straight game on Monday, beating the New York Mets, 4-3. For the fourth straight game, the Orioles got a strong outing from their starting pitcher, as new arrival Pat Hentgen threw three scoreless innings of two-hit ball. And for the fourth straight game, Albert Belle did not play. Still, the Orioles managed to scratch out 4 runs with the help of eleven hits (all singles) and five New York errors, including one by Ex-O Todd Zeile. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
Chuck McElroy, hoping to get a rotation spot: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB.
John Bale, bullpen candidate: 2 IP, 3 R on 3 H, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP. Made big mistake by giving up 3R HR to punchless Desi Relaford.
Ryan Kohlmeier, closer candidate, had a shaky outing, but successful: 2 scoreless innings, 3 hit, 1 BB, 1 K.
Catchers (Backup role open)
Fernando Lunar: 1-3
Willie Morales, longshot candidate: 0-2 with an RBI.
Infield
Jay Gibbons: 2-2, now hitting 6-7 this spring.
Mike Kinkade, C/3B: 0-3
Jeff Conine, ostensible trade bait: 1-3, RBI.
Jose Leon, 3B slated for Bowie: 0-1 as a PH
Steve Sisco, utility candidate: 2-5 with a run scored.
Ed Rogers, SS of the future: 2-2, stole a base and scored a run.
Carlos Casimiro, nonprospect: 0-1, again playing the OF.
Outfield
Melvin Mora, probable starting CF: 0-3 while playing CF
Luis Matos, potential 4th outfielder: 1-5
Eugene Kingsale, injury-prone 4th outfielder: 0-2

The Albert Belle situation has now reached critical, as he once again pulled himself out of a game in which he was scheduled to appear, and admitted that it would take a "miracle" for him to play. Everyone has acknowledged that he isn't getting better, but everyone seems reluctant to take the step of declaring his career to be over. If it is, the Orioles would be on the hook for "only" 30% of the remaining $39 million of his contract. To avoid conflict with the moody Belle, who could make it difficult for the Orioles to collect on the insurance policy they have on his contract, the Orioles appear to be letting him decide for himself that he is incapable of playing.

While it's no surprise that the Orioles are interested in trading Delino DeShields to free up some roster space, the rumors floating around are... disturbing. Bizarrely, there are rumors that the Orioles are interested in trading him for Oakland's Omar Olivares, a 33-year old journeyman right handed starter who managed just 108 innings with a 6.75 ERA last year. (Doug Drabek and Shawn Boskie, where are you?)

A new Bricks from the Warehouse column, where we point out that surprisingly, the Orioles don't always overpay for their talent.

Ex-O note: Sid Fernandez, who last pitched in 1997, made his first appearance in a competitive situation on Monday, pitching a perfect fifth inning for the Yankees in their victory over the Braves. Fernandez is hoping to be New York's fifth starter, but would welcome a bullpen role. The game also marked Ex-O Mike Mussina's spring debut for the Yankees.

Next game: Tuesday, 1 PM, vs. Montreal at Ft. Lauderdale. Josh Towers, Jay Spurgeon, Sean Douglass, and The Other Juan Guzman are scheduled to appear. And watch for Tim Raines and his son, Oriole farmhand Tim Raines Jr., to appear in the same game (though on opposing sides). (Spring training Gamelog.)

Bricks from the Warehouse: Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for. (3/2)


March 5
Grapefruit League Day 3



Spring Training Notes

While many other teams had their games cancelled by rain, the Orioles got their game in, and the team's success continued this spring, as they won their third straight game, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3 in Vero Beach. Once again a late rally was the difference, as the Orioles scored 3 runs in the 8th inning to come from behind for the victory. Jason Johnson started and pitched 3 scoreless innings, while the offensive star was Mike Kinkade, who doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in one run and scoring 2. Ex-O Jesse Orosco took the loss for L.A. (Boxscore)

Pitchers
Jason Johnson, fighting for a starting spot: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Willis Roberts, a 26 year old non-roster invitee who could be a bullpen candidate, got knocked around: 2 IP, 3 R on 3 H, 3 BB, 1 K.
Chad Paronto, bullpen candidate: 2 scoreless innings, 1 hit, 1 K.
Calvin Maduro, longshot starter/bullpen candidate: 2 scoreless innings, 1 hit, 1 K.
Catchers
Greg Myers, fighting for backup slot: 0-1
Infield
Jay Gibbons, rule V pick fighting for 1B/DH backup role: 1-2
Mike Kinkade, C/3B: 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R
Jose Leon, 3B slated for Bowie: 1-1, SB, RBI
Brian Roberts, scrappy middle infielder of the future: 0-1, RBI
Ed Rogers, SS of the future: 0-2
Carlos Casimiro, nonprospect: pinch hit and laid down a sacrifice bunt
Outfield
Luis Matos, potential 4th outfielder: 0-3, SB, scored a R
Eugene Kingsale, injury-prone 4th outfielder: 1-3, run scored
Delino DeShields, LF/trade bait: 0-2
Wady Almonte, former prospect: 0-1

The big news from Sunday, though, is not really news: for the second straight day, Albert Belle was forced by pain to sit out after it was previously announced that he would play. At this point, it would have to be said that his professional future is in serious doubt, and neither Mike Hargrove nor Syd Thrift sound very optimistic.

Read our Bricks from the Warehouse installment discussing Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for.

Next game: Monday, 1 PM, vs. Mets at Port St. Lucie. Gamelog.


March 4
Grapefruit League, Day 2



Spring Training Notes

The Orioles went to 2-0 in Florida this spring, defeating the Minnesota Twins, 5-4, in their spring training home opener on Saturday. As on Friday, a two-run rally in the ninth inning gave the Orioles the victory. Jose Mercedes started and pitched 3 innings of 1 run ball, though he struck out just one and was hit harder than his pitching line indicates; former Twin Mike Trombley got the save. Key players:

David Segui didn't play in Saturday's game, but is merely day-to-day and is expected to be ready on Sunday. On the other hand, and much more serious, Albert Belle's future is looking more and more in doubt. Scheduled to play on Saturday afternoon, he had to pull himself out in the morning because of pain. As usual with the Orioles' current management, the decisionmaking is beyond puzzling. We're not privy to Belle's medical records, of course, but the condition he is reported to have is not the sort which gets better or less painful without hip replacement surgery. What we can't figure out is why the Orioles are even pretending to indulge Belle's wish to play the outfield. He wasn't a great fielder to begin with, and it seems evident that if he plays, it will have to be at designated hitter. But that's a big "if" right now, and the Orioles are going to have to make a decision soon. Belle is now scheduled to start on Sunday when the Orioles play the Dodgers in Vero Beach.

And read our latest Bricks from the Warehouse installment discussing Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for.


March 3
Notes of the Day



Spring Training Notes

The Orioles defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3, in their Grapefruit League opener. Orioles fans will not be surprised to learn that the Orioles won when Ex-O Heathcliff Slocumb gave up a game-winning two-run home run in the ninth inning. Current Orioles pitchers, on the other hand, did well, with Sidney Ponson throwing three perfect innings in his spring debut. Other highlights (or lowlights) for players whose jobs or team roles might be on the line:

Jose Mercedes is expected to start on Saturday for the Orioles, followed by John Parrish and Buddy Groom. Albert Belle is expected to get his first test -- as is David Segui -- but observers note that Belle does not look very good. He apparently can't run in the field, hit, or run the bases. (You can follow our spring training gamelog.)

Transactions: the Orioles inked Mike Kinkade, Ivanon Coffie, Eugene Kingsale and Juan Figueroa to one-year deals on Friday. The entire 40-man roster is now under contract for 2001.

Ex-O news: Utility infielder Manny Alexander's legal troubles are now over, as a Massachusetts district court has ruled that there is insufficient evidence to support criminal charges against him for steroid possession, a misdemeanor. There's no truth to the rumor that the judge took one look at Alexander's career .328 SLG and laughed the charges out of court. (Also check out our historical overview of some past legal problems involving Orioles.)

And read our latest Bricks from the Warehouse installment discussing Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for.


March 2
Grapefruit league beginnings



Spring Training Notes

With the Orioles' spring training opener vs. the Cardinals today in Jupiter, Florida, Sidney Ponson, Josh Towers, Jay Spurgeon and B. J. Ryan are expected to get work. Barring injury, Ponson and Ryan should be guaranteed slots in the rotation and bullpen respectively, but Towers and Spurgeon are fighting for spots, so they deserve some attention. Albert Belle will not get a chance to test out his hip under game conditions, as he's being left home in Ft. Lauderdale, but he is expected to play on Saturday.

Speaking of Belle's hip, the story of spring training so far has been injuries. Of course, some injuries are to be expected so early in the spring, as players begin serious work after a winter of relative inactivity. And some of the injuries date back to the end of last season. Still, the damage report seems inordinately long, as the list of injured players (whose injuries range in seriousness from day-to-day to career-threatening) now includes Scott Erickson, Cal Ripken, Albert Belle, Alan Mills, Matt Riley, Luis Rivera, Pat Gorman, Mark Nussbeck, and Chris Richard. And the latest addition to the injury list is free agent first baseman David Segui, who strained his hamstring on Wednesday and who will also sit out today's Grapefruit League opener.

And today we have another Bricks from the Warehouse installment discussing the Six key questions the Orioles face in 2001, and what fans should be looking for.




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Last Updated: March 28, 2001
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