Robinson hints Flanagan will gain spot on team


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Frank Robinson isn't making any promises, but he seemed to indicate yesterday that left-hander Mike Flanagan would be part of his Opening Day pitching staff.

"I'm not saying he has won a job, but he's done everything we've asked him to so far," said Robinson. "He has an excellent chance to make the ballclub, which is about as much of a commitment as you're going to get from me."

Flanagan did not appear in the Baltimore Orioles' 9-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox yesterday at Ed Smith Stadium. He remained at Twin Lakes Park to pitch in a minor-league game, working five innings against the Class AAA Portland Beavers and giving up four hits and an unearned run. He has not given up an earned run this spring in 17 innings.

In three Grapefruit League appearances, Flanagan has pitched 12 innings and given up just five hits and two walks.

Though he dropped in class for the day, it was an indication that the club is more interested in getting him work than evaluating individual performances. He has, after all, been one of the most effective pitchers in camp.

"We're still giving him innings as if he will be a starter," Robinson said. "In a week or so, we'll have to make a decision on how to use him. We'll start pitching him more frequently if we use him in relief."

Flanagan looked like a long shot when he arrived in camp as a non-roster invitee, but he appears to have guaranteed himself at least a long relief/spot starter role. Now, it appears, a place in the rotation is not out of the question.

Newly acquired Jeff Robinson continues to struggle, and promising Jose Mesa no longer seems like an automatic selection. Ben McDonald, Jeff Ballard and Dave Johnson are the only certain members of the rotation at this point.

* Jeff Robinson was knocked around yesterday for the third time in four Grapefruit League appearances. He gave up six runs on nine hits over four innings, raising his ERA to 7.71. He has given up 23 runs in 14 innings, but 11 of them have been unearned.

"I have a feel for my breaking ball some days and some days I spin it," Robinson said. "This was only the second time I've thrown the breaking pitches and it was kind of 50-50. They were sitting on the fastball."

Robinson has not incorporated his forkball into his pitching repertoire, but expects to do that the next time out. He knows that the evaluation process is stepping up, and his effectiveness will have to increase to assure himself a significant place in the club's pitching plans.

* The Orioles have named a replacement for advance scout Ed Farmer, who left the organization during the off-season to join the staff of Chicago White Sox general manager Ron Schueler.

Minor-league hitting instructor Deacon Jones was appointed yesterday and went to work immediately.

"This is very exciting for me," Jones said. "It's a goal I set for myself, to be involved in the decision-making process, being able to work closely with Frank and the coaching staff.

"You like to feel you're part of things. I really appreciate the opportunity that [club president] Larry [Lucchino] and [general manager] Roland [Hemond] have given me."

Jones, 56, has served as Orioles minor-league batting instructor since 1988. He scouted for the White Sox in 1974-75 and the New York Yankees in 1983.

* Officials of Collier County, Fla., officially will announce today the formation of a spring-training partnership with the Orioles and Florida Rock, a local supplier of construction materials. The agreement clears the way for construction of a full-service spring training facility for the Orioles. News of the agreement leaked out during the weekend, so Orioles officials have said they see no reason to call a formal news conference to announce their participation in the project, which is expected to be completed in time for the 1993 preseason.

* The Orioles have allowed 27 unearned runs this spring, which puts them at the top of the major-league rankings in that dubious department. The club needed 99 games last year to allow 27 unearned runs during the regular season.

* The starting lineup for yesterday's game brought Randy Milligan, Cal Ripken, Dwight Evans and Glenn Davis together for only the second time in the exhibition schedule.

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