SARASOTA, Fla. -- He stopped short of making a guarantee, but manager Johnny Oates virtually ruled out the possibility of Mike Devereaux and Brady Anderson changing places in the Orioles' outfield.
After hinting that he might do some experimenting with Anderson shifting from left field to center field this spring, Oates discussed the situation with Devereaux before yesterday's workout. "It [the conversation] went good, and I'm not going to do anything," said Oates.
"I just wanted to clarify all I've been hearing and reading over the winter. I told Devo there was never anything definite and if I was going to do anything, he'd hear it from me first. And I don't expect it [a switch] to happen. I'm really happy with the way those two have played the past couple of years.
"I can't foresee any other combination being as effective as those two have been covering two-thirds of the outfield -- and probably more than that. If you really got down to it, Brady could play center field as good as Devo, but I don't think Mike could play left field as good as Brady."
Being left-handed, Anderson has the advantage of having his gloved hand on the side of the foul line in left field. He also has the stronger throwing arm of the two. That combination probably enables Anderson to hold more runners to one base on hits to left field.
"I'll take Brady's defense in left field against anybody in baseball," said Oates. "He's the best out there that I've seen since Dusty Baker, who was average in center field and outstanding in left field."
Both Devereaux and Anderson prefer playing center field. But Oates has indicated he feels the overall alignment is best the way it has been the past two years.
"Johnny knows that I'm going to hear about it [talk of Anderson moving to center field]," said Devereaux. "We've talked about it before, and he knows I'll do whatever is best for the team.
"I can't say I'd be disappointed [to move], it's just that center field is my best position -- my favorite position," said Devereaux.
Based on what Oates said yesterday, that's where Devereaux will remain. "It's not written in cement that he has to be the center fielder," said Oates. "But right now I have no plans to change anything. I like those guys where they are -- and batting first and second."
Major plus for minor-leaguers
The Orioles' minor-leaguers who came early for advanced spring training beat a touring team from Korea, 3-2, Tuesday afternoon in Bradenton, Fla.
"It was an excellent game," said Doug Melvin, Orioles assistant general manager. "We threw out a couple of guys at home plate and two pitchers who were on rehabilitation all last year pitched very well."
Trovin Valdez, who played with the Single-A Gulf Coast team last year, had a pair of assists from right field. And left-handers Matt Anderson and Shane Hale were impressive in their first competitive appearances in more than a year.
The minor-leaguers, mostly from the lower classifications, are working out now because the Orioles chose to forgo their Winter Instructional League season. They will play games against a team from the Phillies' organization, also trying the new format, and will meet the Korean team again later in the week.
Onward and upward
All of the remaining position players are due in camp for the first full squad workout today. Oates said he would deliver a message similar to the one he gave the pitchers last week.
"I'm going to tell them that we've been competitive the last two years, but that now it's time to turn it up a notch," said Oates. "There is a lot of outstanding personnel in this clubhouse -- and it's time to go to the next level."
M&M; off to sweet start
Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald both worked two impressive innings in the pitchers' squad game yesterday.
Mussina showed no ill effects from the shoulder injury that shortened his season last year, and McDonald appeared to pick up where he left off a year ago.