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Opponents to face tall order this year Davis, 6-7 Sutcliffe raise staff standard


SARASOTA, Fla. -- As now constituted, the Orioles' five-man starting rotation stretches out to 32 feet -- but it wouldn't even be the tallest John Oates has managed.

"When I managed Columbus for the Yankees [1987], the shortest guy was 6 feet 5," said Oates. The projected Orioles rotation would average that height.

Ben McDonald and Rick Sutcliffe are 6-7, Storm Davis and Bob Milacki are 6-4 and Mike Mussina is the runt at 6-2.

"I'm the point guard -- I move the ball around," Mussina said.

Milacki, who three years ago was the tallest pitcher on the staff, said, "I feel short around these guys -- real short."

One of the pitchers in Oates' rotation at Columbus is bidding to crack the Orioles rotation -- and increase the average height. Dennis Rasmussen is also 6-7, but he was only in the middle of the pack at Columbus.

On that staff, Stefan Wever was 6-8, Ben Callahan 6-7, Clay Christiansen and Dave Wehrmeister 6-5. "They were on the cover of The Sporting News that year," said Oates, "and now only one of them [Rasmussen] is still pitching."

Incidentally, the Orioles starters might rank as the tallest, all-right-handed rotation.

Not left out

Oates said again yesterday that the possible lack of a left-handed starter is not a concern. "Ideally, sure you'd like to have three right-handers and two left-handers, or three left-handers and two right-handers," he said.

"And as long as I have the job, we'll be trying to improve this club every day -- that's one of our responsibilities. We're looking for the five best starters we can put our hands on," Oates said, "and if that means they're all right-handers, I have no problem with it."

Cat is back

The Orioles workouts the next two days will feature the return of the intrasquad matchup called "one-eyed cat" games.

Oates already has said Sutcliffe "will be the MVP among the non-catchers." The veteran right-hander was one of the best-hitting pitchers in the National League.

"He's got his own order of bats," said Oates, who indicated he might use Sutcliffe as a pinch hitter in certain situations.

"I wouldn't use him ahead of a regular player," said Oates, "but if it was the bottom of the 11th inning and we had taken out our DH and Gregg Olson was coming to the plate with a chance to win the game, then I'd send Rick up there to hit."

Bill Ripken arrives

Second baseman Bill Ripken was the latest position player to join the early workouts. Besides Glenn Davis and Dwight Evans, who were asked to come in early, Joe Orsulak, Sam Horn and Ripken are other regulars in camp.

Armed and ready

The throwing ability of Cesar Devares has attracted a lot of attention in camp and earned the rookie catcher a nickname. He is being called "Senor Brazo" (Mr. Arm) by the other players.

Wedding bells

General manager Roland Hemond has a busy weekend coming up. His youngest son, Jay, 26, is getting married here Sunday.

Young Hemond works for the Orioles' Class A farm team in Frederick, which is where he met his future wife, Sharon Carswell. "Her family is from the East, and our family is from the West Coast, so this is sort of a neutral field," said Hemond.

"Jay has a great fondness for Sarasota from the years we spent here in spring training while I was with the White Sox," said the Orioles general manager.

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