McDonald: passing grade but no gold star Bosman sees room for improvement


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ben McDonald got a passing grade for the four innings he worked in yesterday's 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. But pitching coach Dick Bosman said there was room for improvement.

"Overall, he wasn't as sharp as the last time [against Toronto Wednesday night]," said Bosman. "He didn't have his real good stuff, but I did see some good sliders."

McDonald allowed five hits, but two of the three runs he allowed were unearned because of a first-inning error by second baseman Steve Scarsone. Randy Bush homered into a strong right-field wind for the Twins' other run in the third inning.

The game did not feature star-studded lineups, with each side barely meeting the required spring training minimum of five starters. The Orioles scored five times off Bert Blyleven in the second inning, when Mark McLemore and Paul Carey hit run-scoring doubles.

Blyleven, 41, said he would discontinue his comeback attempt if he can't crack the rotation: "I'm not going to pitch in the bullpen."

McLemore, who played the entire game in left field, drove in another run with a second double in the fifth inning.

Alan Mills followed McDonald and Fernando Valenzuela and pitched two scoreless innings, running his streak to seven.

The Orioles (7-3) are 4-0 against American League teams, giving up two earned runs in 36 innings.

For openers

Manager Johnny Oates said yesterday that he would name his Opening Day pitcher "in about two weeks."

Rick Sutcliffe, who opened last season, and Mike Mussina, who has the credentials to open this year, are on almost identical schedules, so either will be ready to face the Texas Rangers April 5.

Sutcliffe missed a start because of the weekend storm, but pitched the equivalent of four innings in a simulated game on Sunday. "If somebody had to miss a start, it happened to the right guy," said Oates.

"It won't mess him up either mentally or physically. In his next start [Friday against the Phillies], we'll stretch him out to 60 pitches and he'll be right on schedule."

Oates said Mussina would throw approximately 70 pitches in his next start Thursday against the Twins.

Hammonds hampered

Jeffrey Hammonds, the No. 1 draft choice who has excited everyone in camp, still is hampered by a tight left hamstring muscle.

Hammonds has been limited to five at-bats, during which he has a single, double, home run and three runs batted in.

Mercedes still sore

Outfielder Luis Mercedes still is feeling the effects of the ankle sprain he suffered Tuesday.

He had hoped to play over the weekend, but remains day-to-day.

"It hurts today, because I ran on it yesterday," he said. "It's still sore, but I'm going to try to go Wednesday."

Rhodes pitching

Arthur Rhodes will pitch in a game at the minor-league complex today, giving Oates a chance to look at some pitchers who could be on the bubble when it comes to making final squad cuts.

Anthony Telford, Mike Flanagan, Mike Cook and Brad Pennington are scheduled to face the White Sox tonight. For Flanagan, who has been bothered by shoulder tenderness, it will be his first appearance of the spring.

Ticket extension

The Orioles announced yesterday that they were extending until tomorrow the payment deadline for fans who won the chance to buy Opening Day tickets in a recent lottery. The deadline was extended because of the severe weather conditions.

Williamson upbeat

Right-hander Mark Williamson said he felt some arm stiffness in the aftermath of his four-inning appearance in Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, but he was not complaining.

"Actually, I've been bouncing back pretty good," he said. "I thought I would really feel it today, but I think that five-pitch last inning really helped. That kept down the wear and tear."

Bases full of snow

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