McDonald ineffective, but far from worried


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Ben McDonald had his second straight ineffective exhibition outing, but not to worry. The big righthander said he felt fine and has only a few minor mechanical flaws to correct.

"I'm not getting the ball to the outside part of the plate to righthanders, and the inside part to lefthanders," said McDonald. "It's got to come together in the next two starts."

McDonald, who worked only four innings yesterday because the Orioles wanted to look at Todd Frohwirth and Roy Smith, will have only two more exhibitions to get ready for his Opening Day start April 8.

"My curveball is not there yet," said McDonald. "I'm not consistent with it."

McDonald gave up five hits and four runs (three earned) in four innings yesterday. Smith was the most effective of four Orioles pitchers, going three innings and allowing three hits and one run. Mark Williamson was treated rudely for the second straight time, giving up three hits and three runs in the ninth inning.

Three-run home runs by David Segui and Tim Hulett, the first of the spring for both, provided the cushion for the Orioles (8-7).

* THE HAL BAIRD INFLUENCE: When Todd Brown, son of minor-league pitching coach Tom Brown, signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Auburn, he joined a large Orioles contingent with ties to Tigers coach Hal Baird.

It was Baird who influenced relief ace Gregg Olson to attend Auburn, but there was an Orioles connection long before that. Check out this background:

* Baird and the brother of Johnny Oates were combined as high school teammates in three sports -- as pitcher-catcher in baseball, quarterback-receiver in football and backcourt combination in basketball.

* Orioles trainer Jamie Reed worked in that capacity with Baird at East Carolina College. Rochester manager Greg Biagini's wife was also a trainer while Baird was at East Carolina.

* Hagerstown manager Jerry Narron had a brother who played for Baird at East Carolina.

"When I heard all of that I said, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " said Tom Brown. "I couldn't believe it."

Todd Brown is a fleet centerfielder who plays for Venice (Fla.) High School. Baird made such an impression on young Brown that he canceled trips to three other colleges after visiting Auburn.

* SECOND CUT NICKS FIVE: Five pitchers were reassigned to the minor leagues yesterday as the Orioles made their second squad cut of the spring.

Mike Linskey, the lefthander from Loyola High School, and righthanders Dave Martinez and Francisco de la Rosa were optioned to Triple A Rochester. Lefthander Joe Price and righthander Mike Mussina, both non-roster invitees, were returned to the Red Wings.

The latest cut leaves 39 players in camp, including seven who are not on the roster.

* THIS 'N THAT: Cal Ripken, who had a bases-loaded double and an excuse-me single yesterday, has 10 hits in his last 13 at-bats to raise his spring average to .448.

Joe Orsulak (6) and Bob Melvin (5) had consecutive game hitting streaks stopped yesterday. Juan Bell has a seven-game hitting streak, counting both "A" and "B" squad games.

With two hits yesterday, Mike Devereaux has hit safely in eight of the last nine games and is batting .412 for the spring.

The Orioles have thrown out eight of 13 would-be base stealers this spring, with Melvin catching four of five.

A switch in the Orioles' rotation has Bob Milacki pitching against

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