Lucchino confirms talk on new site


HAINES CITY, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles president Larry Lucchino confirmed yesterday that the team is talking with Collier County, Fla., officials about a new spring-training location.

"The key point is we have changed sites. We have a new viable site being made available," said Lucchino. "We're now at the point that we're discussing proposals with county officials."

Yesterday, The Sun reported that the Orioles had reached a tentative agreement with Florida Rock, a supplier of construction materials, to build a complex in Naples, Fla.

Lucchino said yesterday that a news conference on the matter may be held early this week, but nothing is firm yet.

"This is obviously something we've been working on for some time," said Lucchino, referring to a spring home. "We're very hopeful, but the deal is not done.

"We need the input of the county and further discussions before it can be made final."

The Sun reported that the agreement with Florida Rock apparently calls for the company to provide 310 acres, about 85 acres of which would be used for the baseball complex. Such a training camp probably would include a stadium seating 6,000 to 7,000 and an additional five or six practice fields.

* Paul Kilgus is a sleeper to make the Orioles' pitching staff, but his outing yesterday did not enhance his chances.

Kilgus gave up his first two earned runs of the spring and was the losing pitcher in the 7-4 defeat to the Kansas City Royals.

"It was one of those fluky days for him," said manager Frank Robinson. "All pitchers go through them. I guess he's entitled to one."

"He threw 50 pitches in two innings, and that's far too many for a pitcher like him," said pitching coach Al Jackson. "When you don't get ahead of the hitters, you're in trouble, and he was behind all day."

Kilgus, acquired in a trade with Toronto for Mickey Weston, is battling Kevin Hickey for a left-handed relief spot.

"It's getting down to decision time," said Jackson. "May the best man win."

* Glenn Davis made the trip to Haines City yesterday, walking once and striking out twice in three plate appearances.

"We fooled him," said Robinson, tongue in cheek. "We put it up on the board as a bus to Sarasota. But we couldn't trick Dewey [Evans]."

In a more serious vein, Robinson said Davis will take his normal turn on trips now that the muscle spasms in his neck have improved.

"When he was injured, there wasn't any sense in him traveling," he said. "Now he goes like the rest of us."

* The Orioles' four minor-league affiliates split opening exhibition games against their Pittsburgh counterparts.

In the Class AAA game, Buffalo beat Rochester, 4-2, despite three scoreless innings by Red Wings starter Chris Myers. Carolina beat Hagerstown (Class AA), 5-2, although Arthur Rhodes, the Suns' starter, allowed only one hit in three innings.

Damon Buford had two hits, including a home run, a stolen base and two runs batted in, to lead Frederick (Class A) past Salem, 12-5, and Kane County (Class A) edged Augusta, 4-3, behind Tommy Taylor (three scoreless innings) and Brady Tyler (two RBI).

* Cal Ripken was 1-for-3 yesterday and has 13 hits in his past 20 at-bats (.650). . . . Bob Melvin threw out one of two runners trying to steal and is 5-for-7 (.715) this spring. . . . Randy Milligan made his first error in left field, misplaying a fourth-inning line drive by Jim Eisenreich that allowed a run to score. At the plate, he hit his second homer and is 8-for-13 (.615) in his past five games with five runs batted in. . . . Joe Orsulak was 3-for-4, breaking a string of four successive hits in his last at-bat. He is on a 14-for-32 (.425 ) surge. . . . Craig Worthington is 6-for-his past 14, but was charged with his first two errors of the spring on a routine ground ball by Bill Pecota and a dropped foul popup hit by Pecota. The first error allowed the Royals to tie at 4 with an unearned run. "It must be the position," said Robinson. Leo Gomez, the other candidate at third, has three errors.

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