Four-man rotation pleases McDonald
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Right-hander Ben McDonald was happy to hear that Baltimore Orioles manager Frank Robinson had decided to switch to a four-man rotation, even though it could mean more wear and tear on the elbow that forced him onto the disabled list during spring training.
"I think it will help me," McDonald said. "The more I get out there, the faster I'm going to get back to where I want to be."
McDonald, who made his third start of the season last night at Anaheim Stadium, struggled in his first two appearances, giving up 10 earned runs on 15 hits in 7 1/3 innings.
By all accounts, he showed improvement in his most recent outing, but still must prove that his arm is sound and his confidence in it complete.
"There's not only the physical part of it," Robinson said. "There's also the mental part of it. People look at him and say he doesn't have his good stuff, but there's more to it than that.
"I think he threw the ball better and had better velocity the second time out, but he just wasn't as consistent as he can be."
That had nothing to do with Robinson's decision to go with four starters instead of five, but McDonald hopes it will help him get back into the kind of shape that made him one of the most overpowering pitchers in the American League in the second half of the 1990 season.
"When you're not totally in shape, you're a little awkward," he said. "I went 2 1/2 weeks and then got one start in Florida. My arm is OK. There's no doubt about that. So, I feel like any time now, things are going to start clicking. It's just a matter of time."
Evans gets night off
Right fielder Dwight Evans was not in the starting lineup last night, but Robinson said it was only because it was an opportune to give him a rest.
"He got the day off yesterday, but after a trip like we made yesterday, I'm even feeling it," Robinson said. "There's nothing wrong. He'll probably be in here any minute wanting to know why he isn't in there."
Evans has been one of the steadiest performers on the club through the first month of the season, batting .283 with nine RBI.
Holton signs with Dodgers
Former Orioles right-hander Brian Holton, who failed to catch on with the San Diego Padres this spring, signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Class AAA club at Albuquerque, N.M. Holton, 31, who had an outstanding season in the Dodgers bullpen in 1988, becomes the sixth pitcher 27 years of age or older to sign a minor-league contract with the Dodgers.
McKnight makes impression
The Orioles didn't accomplish much in their one-day trip to Rochester, N.Y., but Red Wings outfielder Jeff McKnight should be happy they came.
Robinson said yesterday that he was impressed with the way McKnight swung the bat in the Red Wings' 4-3 victory over the Orioles Thursday.
"He didn't have a bad swing in four at-bats," Robinson said. "He looked like a completely different hitter. He looks like he has tremendous confidence up there."
The manager also got a look at outfielder/first baseman David Segui, who recently came off the disabled list and hopes to come back to Baltimore soon.
Johnson decision made Tuesday
Robinson said the decision to move Dave Johnson to the bullpen did not result from Wednesday's organizational meeting.
"I made the decision the day after Johnson pitched," Robinson said, "but there was no reason to tell him right away. I wanted to let him relax a little bit. I didn't want to hit him with anything negative right off."
There also was the possibility that circumstances would conspire to keep him in the rotation, so there was no reason to announce the change prematurely.