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Birds won't trip up Evans with lot of traveling


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Outfielder Dwight Evans, who played in both of the Orioles' intrasquad games, could be held out of the exhibitions until next week.

Manager Frank Robinson said yesterday that Evans will miss at least the first four games. Robinson will give Evans the option of playing Monday against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, in Bradenton.

"I'm going to bring him along slowly," Robinson said. "He'll make some of the shorter trips. But I'll try to have him miss as many longer trips as possible. I'll try to have him peak as best he can toward the end of the spring."

Evans, 39, was plagued by a lower back injury last season. He already has missed two workouts -- one because of fluid in his knee, another because of the flu. He has been receptive to the limited work schedule prescribed by Robinson thus far.

* SAME OLD JIM: Two more thoughts on Jim Palmer:

"You see him out there, it's almost like you have flashbacks," Robinson said. "He's got a lot of the same action, his mannerisms are still the same. It's almost like he's never been away. You look over to third base, and you expect to see Brooks [Robinson] over there."

Here's another perspective, from Nolan Ryan: "I don't know how someone could retire because of diminishing ability, lay off seven years and come back. I know what it takes for me to continue at my age [44]. I have to work out year-round. That's the toughest part for me, being physically able to do it. I'll be surprised if he's able to do it."

* HALL-STRUCK: Larry Walding was the plate umpire and admitted it was a funny feeling waiting for the first pitch of yesterday's game -- from Hall of Famer Palmer.

"It felt a little different with him out there," said Walding. "I was a little in awe of him. Let's face it, he's accomplished an awful lot. I thought he threw pretty good, and I'd like to see him make it.

"But after that [the first pitch] it wasn't any different. I just called what I saw."

* BACK TO YOU: In the second inning yesterday, Ernie Whitt smoked a line drive right back at Palmer. "It scared me at first," said Whitt. "But he showed me something."

What Palmer showed was that he probably still could win the Gold Glove. He caught Whitt's liner, then barely missed one off the bat of Luis Mercedes.

"I should have had it," said Palmer, maybe the best fielding pitcher of his time, "but I lost it in the white background and it tipped off my glove."

"It's amazing to see he still has those kind of reflexes," said minor-league coach Tom Brown. "I tried to come back and pitch in the Senior League and I was amazed that I couldn't catch a ball hit back to me."

* HAT TRICK: Tim Hulett had three hits and Bill Ripken had two and drove in two runs as coach Cal Ripken's team won the final squad game, 7-4.

For the second straight day the hitters and pitchers reversed their normal early spring roles as the teams combined for 21 hits. Two of Hulett's hits were doubles, and Ripken and Bob Melvin had triples for the winners.

The only home run came for the losing side, a wind-blown solo shot by Chris Hoiles off Palmer.

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