HAINES CITY, Fla. -- Left-hander Arthur Rhodes pitched two scoreless innings in his first exhibition start as the Orioles defeated the Kansas City Royals, 4-0, yesterday at Baseball City Stadium.
"He struggled a little bit with his control," manager Johnny Oates said, "and I don't think he used his breaking pitches as much as he would during the season. But he put two zeros up there. That's the bottom line."
Six Orioles pitchers combined to give up just four hits and pitch the club's second shutout of the spring, but the afternoon was not all good news for the pitching staff. Right-hander Jeff Williams suffered a dislocated left thumb when he was hit on the hand by a line drive in the seventh inning.
Trainer Jamie Reed re-set the thumb, but Williams was scheduled to undergo precautionary X-rays after the team returned to St. Petersburg last night.
"Thank goodness it was my glove hand," Williams said.
Oates had to be pleased with the pitchers that took the mound for the Orioles, who evened their Grapefruit League record at 2-2. Prospects Todd Stephan and John O'Donoghue each pitched two scoreless innings. Williams faced just one batter, but Brad Pennington and Alan Mills each pitched well in short relief.
Right fielder Chito Martinez provided the biggest offensive highlight, hitting his first home run of the spring off Royals reliever Jeff Montgomery in the sixth inning. The Orioles had taken the lead on a bases-loaded double-play ball by Tim Hulett in the second and added another run on a squeeze bunt by catcher Jeff Tackett.
Third baseman Leo Gomez raised concern about his right shoulder when he made two throwing errors in the first two exhibition games, but he apparently is OK.
"I asked him the other day, 'What's going on? Are you hurting?' " Oates said. "He said that he just got a little careless. The first couple of throws he was babying it, but he threw the last two great. He got a little angry after the two errors and pumped it up a little bit.
"He was throwing sidearm at first and the ball has a tendency not to go where you want it to. He got back over the top with the next two."
The Orioles have reason to show concern. Gomez suffered a partial dislocation of his right shoulder near the end of last season and spent the winter trying to strengthen a loose shoulder capsule. The rehabilitation program appears to have been successful, but a recurrence of the dislocation could lead to extensive shoulder surgery.
"I'm fine," Gomez said. "I just got into the habit of throwing three-quarters instead of over the top. When you throw that way, the ball has a tendency to run. When you throw over the top, it goes straight to the first baseman."
Fernando on Friday?
Left-hander Fernando Valenzuela could make his first competitive appearance as an Oriole on Friday, if all goes well in his final preparatory workout today.
"It might be Friday," Oates said. "It depends on how he feels tomorrow."
Valenzuela has thrown four times since he signed with the Orioles nine days ago, but he will only be a few days behind the other pitchers if he faces the Chicago White Sox on Friday in Sarasota.
Oates on Davis
First baseman Glenn Davis still has no timetable for his first preseason appearance, but it could come later this week. He'll meet with Oates today to discuss his status.
"I'll talk to him tomorrow," Oates said. "He has to tell me when he wants to play. I'll make the decision when to put him in the lineup, but he has to tell me when he's ready."
Davis' conditioning and rehabilitation program appears to be going well, if his upbeat attitude is any indication. Oates hopes that the environment remains positive.
"That's what we're working for," Oates said. "We're trying to get thebest out of him. We're going slow this year. I hope we're on the right path."
Flanagan status uncertain
Left-hander Mike Flanagan remains tentatively scheduled to make his first exhibition appearance Thursday, but his status remains uncertain three days after he received a cortisone injection to clear up some shoulder stiffness.
Jeffrey Hammonds has been held out of the past three exhibition games because of a slight hamstring problem. "It's nothing serious," said trainer Richie Bancells.
His teammates were quick to take notice. The presence of last year's No. 1 draft choice in the trainer's room prompted a sign over the door that read "Club Hammonds."
Hammonds was scheduled to accompany the team to Clearwater for today's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hammonds and Brady Anderson spent extra time in the XTC batting cage after yesterday's workout to practice their bunting.
That's an area of the game that Anderson didn't emphasize last year and could be an added dimension this season. Hammonds' power has drawn most of the attention, but speed is also a big part of his game and he's reputed to be an excellent bunter.