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Jeffrey Hammonds

What he would be doing if there were no strike: Hammonds, 24, would have been in Florida gauging his recovery from the reconstructive knee surgery he had last October. Despite his knee trouble, Hammonds batted .296 in 68 games last season with 18 doubles, two triples and eight homers. If he's healthy enough to play, Hammonds likely will play right field for the Orioles.

What he's doing instead: Hammonds is at his parents' home in Scotch Plains, N.J. He spent a month this winter at Stanford University -- his old school -- rehabilitating his knee and hitting and running. Hammonds told teammate Brian Sackinsky that had spring training opened on time, he would have been a few weeks behind. But because the strike has lasted so long, Hammonds could be ready; he wants to find out for himself. "I want to see how far I've really progressed. I want to get out with my teammates. . . . Working out is not really testing my knee the way a game would. I'm very curious to see how well my knee will hold up. It feels great, but I have no clue."

Who he thinks will win the NCAA tournament: "I had UCLA, Kentucky, Arkansas and Villanova in my Final Four. I've been talking UCLA -- it's about time a Pac-10 team did something. . . . It's not because I'm really a big Pac-10 fan, but I'm sitting here wearing the colors of Stanford, so I guess I've got to go for the Pac-10 school."

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