MINNEAPOLIS -- Sherman Obando had not started a game since April 24, but he took advantage of his first major-league start as a designated hitter to make a positive impression on Orioles manager Johnny Oates.
Obando's performance figures to earn him some more playing time this weekend while the Orioles wait for Harold Baines to recover from a rib-cage strain.
"The kid stepped forward," Oates said. "We've been looking for people to step forward -- [Chris] Hoiles, Brady [Anderson], [Leo] Gomez, Cal [Ripken] -- and he was sitting here all along.
"I told him 10 days ago, before the season is over he's going to get his playing time. It may be going slowly now, but the opportunity is going to present itself. With Mark McLemore playing so well and Baines at DH, there was no time for him to play. Now, with Harold hurt and [Mike] Devereaux out, he's going to get a lot more playing time."
Obando has swung the bat well in his limited role. He has six hits in 19 at-bats for a .316 average.
Baines told Oates that his intercostal strain didn't feel as sore as he expected yesterday, but the club will not draw any conclusions about his condition until the injury is re-evaluated in Toronto today.
Baines is listed as day-to-day, but the club figures to handle the situation conservatively to avoid turning a short-term problem into a long-term one.
Bosman on Rhodes
Pitching coach Dick Bosman doesn't seem discouraged by the performance of left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who has won once in five starts and has not given up fewer than four runs in any of them.
"It's all location," Bosman said. "The quality of the what he throws by and large is good. It's a matter of consistently locating his fastball and breaking ball. He's like any other young fastball pitcher. You just have to keep sending him out there."
Bosman on Sutcliffe
Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe went through an extended workout on the side yesterday, hoping to improve his consistency. He has pitched well in three starts and been hit hard in the other three.
Sutcliffe threw more than 100 pitches, which is quite a few for a pitcher working between starts.
"We're working on focus," said Bosman. "He needs to focus on the glove. A lot of guys go through this. Instead of focusing on the glove, you try to pitch off the hitters and your location suffers."
Sutcliffe returns to the mound Saturday in the third game of the series against the Blue Jays.
"I'm just trying to get my act together," he said. "I'm trying to become more consistent with what I'm doing out there."
Sutcliffe on series
Sutcliffe isn't looking at the four-game series against the Blue Jays as anything more than a chance for the Orioles (10-15) to get closer to .500.
"The object is to get back to winning some series," Sutcliffe said. "We had a great homestand. We need to split here [at the Metrodome] and try to win the series in Toronto.
"I don't know how long Harold is going to be out, but having Harold and Devereaux out is going to make things a lot tougher."
Buford's better day
Rookie Damon Buford did not have a memorable night in his major-league debut Tuesday, going 0-for-3 and losing a fly ball against the Metrodome roof for a triple, but his second start was better.
Buford singled sharply to left-center in his first at-bat yesterday and walked his next time up. When he made an out, it was a line drive right at the third baseman.
Tuesday night in review
The Orioles were held to four hits in Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Twins -- the fewest hits the club has had this season. The only hit in their last 18 at-bats of the game was a two-run homer by Chris Hoiles in the eighth inning.
The offense cooled off considerably after a five-game stretch in which the Orioles batted .300 (60-for-200). Twins right-hander Scott Erickson gave up three hits in seven innings for his first victory.