Palmer, Flanagan to work as starters Orioles notes


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Frank Robinson said yesterday that he is looking at Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer as a starter, but only because it is the most practical way to get him ready for an unspecified role.

"I told him and Mike Flanagan both that I'm looking at them as starters," Robinson said. "You can always back off if you decide you want to move them into relief. It's a lot harder to use someone as a reliever and then try to stretch him to six or seven innings late in the spring."

Palmer is likely to get a start during the first week of the Grapefruit League exhibition season, provided he still is healthy and here. There has been speculation that he'll start March 11 against the Boston Red Sox in Bradenton, Fla., in a game that will be televised on HTS, but Robinson would not confirm a specific date.

"He'll start his first game," Robinson said. "I'm not sure how it will go after that. If he doesn't start the next time, it won't mean anything. We'll start some relievers at times because some clubs only use their best hitters early in the game.

"Both of them indicated that they are willing to be used any way I see fit."

Palmer threw for 15 minutes in his third workout on the practice mounds. He wore an elastic elbow sleeve, but apparently just to keep his arm warm and loose. Ben McDonald and a couple of other Orioles pitchers do the same.

* Outfielder Dwight Evans did not participate in yesterday's workout. He experienced soreness and swelling in his right knee and was ordered by Robinson to rest it for a day.

Evans had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the knee during the off-season. He reported to camp a week early to work it into shape, even though he was not required to be in uniform until today.

"It wasn't anything he hasn't had before," trainer Jamie Reed said. "He was going to work out, but Frank told him to take the day off."

* Robinson will hold his annual first-day-of-spring team meeting today before the first full-squad workout.

"The word they're going to hear around here a lot this year is effort," he said. "I'm just going to talk about conditioning. I'll tell them not to cheat themselves, because they are going to be cheating their teammates if they do."

* The Orioles are waiting to hear if the Player Relations Committee and the Major League Players Association will waive a rule that prevents reliever Joe Price from re-signing with the club before May 1.

Price apparently wants to rejoin the club, but might have to sign a Rochester Red Wings contract and wait until May 1 to play in the major leagues because he was a free agent who was not offered arbitration by the Orioles.

"It's out of our hands," said general manager Roland Hemond. "We don't know if he'll be able to sign a major-league contract or a minor-league contract. We're just waiting to hear from the PRC."

There is the possibility that the May 1 requirement will be waived because Price's back injury was the sole reason the club did not exercise the option on his contract last October.

* Knuckleballer Dan Boone has struggled with his control the first few times he has thrown off the mound this spring, apparently because he cracked a fingernail.

"I'm learning to throw the knuckleball without my nail, because it needs some time to grow out," Boone said. "I haven't told anybody about it because I have to pitch well no matter what if I want to make this team."

* Right-hander Anthony Telford agreed to terms on a one-year contract, but the Orioles still have a long list of player they would like to get under contract before the March 12 renewal deadline.

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