CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-field candidate Luis Mercedes sprained his right ankle rounding first base in the second inning of the Orioles' 7-6 exhibition loss to the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday at Jack Russell Stadium.
Mercedes hobbled into second base after driving an RBI double to left field. He appeared to be in tremendous pain as he crumpled to the ground, but Orioles trainer Jamie Reed said the injury was not as severe as it may have looked.
"It's just a slight sprain," Reed said. "We'll know more when we see how much it swells up tomorrow."
It seems likely that Mercedes' outfield audition will be interrupted for at least a week, but he'll be re-evaluated today. If he misses much time, it could have an effect on competition for playing time in right field.
Mercedes is vying for a place in the Orioles' outfield alignment along with Chito Martinez, Rochester Red Wings outfielder Jack Voigt and Rule V draftee Sherman Obando. Manager Johnny Oates probably will go with some kind of right-left platoon system in right field, but extra outfield jobs may be scarce with first baseman David Segui and utility man Mark McLemore available for emergency outfield work.
Telford's first outing
Right-hander Anthony Telford, who has been sidelined for the past few days with a stiff back, made his first exhibition appearance yesterday and gave up a game-tying, two-run homer to Phillies catcher Darren Daulton in the eighth inning.
Left-hander Jamie Moyer gave up three runs on six hits over two innings in his second preseason appearance.
"I felt good, but I couldn't hit a spot," he said. "I was just struggling. I couldn't throw my fastball for a strike. When I don't do that, I've got to rely on my off-speed pitches."
Reynolds impressed with club
Second baseman Harold Reynolds knew he was coming to a contending ballclub when he signed with the Orioles, but he said recently that the team is even better than he bargained for.
"We're a lot deeper than I thought," he said. "I don't think you really can appreciate guys unless you see them for a long period of time. Take Cal [Ripken]. Just watching the way he practices, you can see why he is such a great player. I can't say I'm surprised. He just has tremendous work habits."
"I think, with their history, they have developed a certain system," he said. "The Oriole way. I've never been around that. In Seattle, we had eight managers and everyone wanted to do it his way. The Orioles have a constant here, from talking with everybody. From what I understand, Cal Ripken Sr. laid out the same program for 20 years, and that's pretty much the way it's done here."
Williams out three weeks
Minor-league pitcher Jeff Williams suffered a small fracture of the left thumb when he was hit on the glove hand by a line drive in Monday's game against the Kansas City Royals. He is expected to be out for at least three weeks.
"He should be able to toss in a couple of days as long as he doesn't get hit there," said trainer Richie Bancells. "He'll be in a splint for three weeks."
Williams suffered a dislocation when he was hit by a ball off the bat of Royals first baseman Wally Joyner. X-rays of the area showed that the trauma to the thumb ligament caused a small piece of bone to become detached. Bancells said the injury will be X-rayed weekly until Williams is ready to return.
It is not a serious setback for the 23-year-old right-hander, who was a candidate for a major-league job this spring. He will lose an opportunity to make a big impression on Oates, but he will not miss much of the minor-league season.
Valenzuela to pitch
Oates said Fernando Valenzuela will make his first competitive appearance as an Oriole tomorrow night against the Toronto Blue Jays at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg.
Ripken off for a day
Shortstop Cal Ripken was given the day off to attend to a family matter. Rookie Manny Alexander started in his place. Ripken is expected to play in tonight's game against Pittsburgh.