Dick Bosman had only a small gathering for his first off-season workout yesterday, but that didn't dull the enthusiasm of the Baltimore Orioles' new pitching coach.
In town primarily to jump start his program with Ben McDonald, Bosman sounded like someone who was ready to start spring training. "I kind of have to hold myself back, I'm so excited about getting started," Bosman said after yesterday's informal workout under the right-field stands at Memorial Stadium.
McDonald and relievers Gregg Olson and Jim Poole were the only Orioles pitchers present yesterday, but the number is expected to grow as the week progresses. Workouts for pitchers living in the area are scheduled three times a week until spring training starts late next month.
In addition to McDonald, Olson and Poole, two former members of the organization -- Dave Johnson and Mike Linskey -- participated in yesterday's workout. Both were dropped from the Orioles' 40-man roster in November.
Linskey was claimed on waivers by the San Diego Padres, while Johnson is still checking his options as a free agent. Reportedly the Angels have expressed some interest, but Johnson could end up in spring training with the Orioles, with whom he wouldn't be allowed to re-sign until May 15.
After presiding over yesterday's brief workout, Bosman talked optimisticallyabout the 1992 Orioles.
"We're not far away from having a real, real good club -- and a quality pitching staff," said Bosman, who replaced Al Jackson on manager John Oates' coaching staff.
Bosman will remain in Baltimore until Friday, then return for the last 12 days of the month. Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, as usual, will run the winter program.
"This is mainly to get the kinks out," said Bosman. "All we want to do is get them ready for spring training."
McDonald's schedule for the winter will closely approximate Bosman's, givng his new instructor a chance to familiarize himself with the big right-hander from Louisiana. Bosman already has spent two weeks working with Olson in the Instructional League and he had Poole on his staff at Rochester for three months last season.
McDonald, who will be starting his third season with the Orioles, has opened each of the last two on the disabled list. Neither time was he able to completely recover.
One of the decisions Bosman will help make in regard to McDonald concerns using the split-finger fast ball. It is not a pitch Bosman necessarily advocates, but neither is he adverse to its use -- if it can be effective.
"We're going to take a look at it," Bosman said of the split-finger pitch, which McDonald used successfully during the 1988 Olympic Games. "I'd be the last one to stop him from throwing it if we felt it would contribute to his success.
"I'm not a big teacher of the split-finger," said Bosman. "Over the course of a career, it sometimes can be more bother than it's worth.
"But if he wants to throw it," said Bosman, "then we'll give it a try. And I think Ben wants to use it."
Bosman did emphasize that the split-finger fastball would be an addition, rather than a substitution, in McDonald's variety of pitches. "We're going to stay with the changeup, because that's a pitch you can take out there every game," he said.
"When the count is 2-and-2 and you have to get somebody out, you're not always going to be able to rely on the split-finger fastball."
NOTES: Catcher Chris Hoiles was the only position player at yesterday's workout. . . . Two minor-league pitchers from the area also participated -- Rick Forney, who pitched for the Orioles' Gulf Coast team in the Florida Rookie League, and Steve Monson, a Milwaukee farmhand.