Olson elbows his way into emergency starting role


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- It was the earliest that Gregg Olson had been waved in from the bullpen. He was not scheduled to pitch until the eighth inning, but he was called on to be the starter when Ben McDonald was scratched with a sore elbow just minutes before the game.

Olson did not get much time to warm up, so he struggled briefly at the outset, but he retired the final eight batters he faced after giving up a run on two hits in the first inning. The Baltimore Orioles went on to lose, 5-4, to the Montreal Expos, but Olson was not involved in the decision.

"I need a little more time than that to warm up," he said. "I wasn't completely ready. Ben was supposed to go five or six innings, then [Mark] Williamson had to throw, and I was coming in for the eighth and maybe the ninth, depending on the outcome. I was just standing around signing autographs and Al [pitching coach Al Jackson] came over and got me."

Olson had not started a game of any kind since he was at the Instructional League in 1988. He had not started a game of any import since he pitched five innings against Cuba in the 1987 Pan American Games.

"I'll stay in the bullpen," Olson said. "I didn't like looking up at the scoreboard and seeing all those unfilled innings."

It was the first time this spring that Olson had pitched more than two innings. Jackson and manager Frank Robinson have kept him on a conservative throwing schedule in an attempt to preserve his arm for the regular season.

"I'm getting progressively more work, and my arm is progressively getting into better shape," said Olson. "I'll be ready [for Opening Day]. That adrenalin is an amazing thing."

Left-hander Mike Flanagan struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced in the Orioles' 7-4 loss to the Expos in the split-squad game at Municipal Stadium in Pompano Beach.

Flanagan also gave up his first earned runs of the preseason, surrendering three in the third inning on a couple of singles and a triple by Otis Nixon.

He was pitching on three days' rest and was pitching in a long-relief situation for the first time this spring, which is an indication that the Orioles are beginning to steer him toward the bullpen, but his status could change depending on the condition of McDonald.

* Right-hander Bob Milacki continues to get mixed results. He pitched six innings in relief of Flanagan and gave up four runs on five hits and three walks.

* The Orioles got all of their scoring in the "B" game on two swings of the bat. Reserve catcher Ernie Whitt and first base prospect David Segui each hit a two-run homer.

* The Orioles cut two more players from the major-league squad yesterday. Submarine pitcher Todd Frohwirth and outfielder Chito Martinez, both non-roster invitees to major-league camp, were reassigned to the minor-league training camp at Twin Lakes Park. Martinez started yesterday's game at Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach.

* Manager Robinson and New York Yankees manager Stump Merrill will take part in a news conference today at Joe Robbie Stadium to promote the weekend series between their two clubs in Miami. Also taking part will be Tim Robbie, president of the Miami Dolphins and Joe Robbie Stadium, and H. Wayne Huizenga, who is heading the ownership group that is trying to bring a major-league team to South Florida.

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