Goodwin, Buford continue to step front and center for same job

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Curtis Goodwin and Damon Buford are both center fielders, both convinced that they can be productive major-leaguers -- and both going for the same job.

They both gave manager Phil Regan something to mull over yesterday in the Orioles' 6-5 exhibition loss to Philadelphia. Buford homered in his only at-bat, and Goodwin singled, walked, stole a couple of bases, and made an interesting prediction.

Asked how many stolen bases he could achieve if he makes this team, Goodwin said he probably would get "80 to 100."

But, remember, the season has been reduced from 162 games to 144.

"I'll still get 80," Goodwin said.

Hard to argue with the numbers after he swiped two easily in the course of a half-dozen pitches yesterday. Batting second in the order behind Brady Anderson, he walked to lead off the fifth inning, and with the count 1-0 to first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, Goodwin broke for second on what he believes was a fastball and went in hard to second, face-first; Phillies shortstop Mariano Duncan didn't bother attempting a tag.

With Cal Ripken batting, Goodwin darted for third. Philadelphia catcher Darren Daulton threw down, but the play wasn't close. "Even if he made a good throw to the bag," Goodwin said, "it wouldn't have gotten me."

Buford replaced Goodwin, and facing Phillies reliever Gene Harris in the top of the ninth, he crushed a fastball high over the left-field wall.

Goodwin has started every game this spring and seems to be Plan A. Buford, hitting .571 this spring, appears to be Plan B. Regan said he wasn't starting Buford in center "because I know he can play center field. I don't care if he gets his [at-bats] playing in center field or playing in right field. I want to see if he can hit."

Buford said: "I'd like to start somewhere this year. If it can't be for the Orioles, then somewhere. I hope it's this year and I hope it's with the Orioles. I do feel like this year, I need to play. . . . I don't think a year of sitting on the bench would be beneficial."

He's not out of options, however. If the Orioles decide to keep Goodwin and send Buford back to Triple-A Rochester, there's really nothing he could do about it. "I don't know if I'm in a position to ask for a trade," he said. "It would kind of be like going through the same thing as I did last year. I don't know what I could show them going back to Rochester.

"I'm not the only one in that situation. I think there are three or four of us. Mark Smith's been there for two years. Sherman Obando.

"All I can do is play and see what happens."

Caught in traffic

When the Orioles' rather unusual spring schedule was announced by Major League Baseball, Regan was typically upbeat despite the fact that his team was given no games in the immediate vicinity of its Sarasota training complex. Rather, the Orioles already have made one trip to Orlando and will make three to Fort Myers this week.

But Regan acknowledges now that the schedule has hindered the Orioles' training more than he expected. Because they are spending so much time on the bus, they haven't had the opportunity to practice fundamentals.

"I thought we had a little more time," Regan said, "but we're always traveling."

Because pitching coach Mike Flanagan makes each road trip, he hasn't had the time to oversee his pitchers' off-day training back in Sarasota. For instance, Flanagan watched Sid Fernandez throw two inconsistent innings Saturday and would have liked a chance to see him throw in the bullpen, but that won't happen; while Fernandez works out in Sarasota, Flanagan will be on a bus.

Flanagan also is having a difficult time scheduling his pitchers to make sure they get enough work during games, and in their proper roles. If the Orioles had a home game, Flanagan would know they would need pitchers for at least nine innings. They are always the road team, however, and Flanagan never knows if a game will last eight or nine innings.

Outfield update

Regan said that right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, coming back from knee surgery, is progressing nicely and could play "in a couple of days." General manager Roland Hemond saw Hammonds deftly complete agility drills yesterday morning and came away feeling good about Hammonds' chances of starting the season in the lineup. "He looked very good," Hemond said.

The Orioles may take a look at slow-footed Houston outfielder Phil Plantier, who hasn't endeared himself to Astros management since arriving in camp last week. Houston may be hoping to dump the $2 million salary of Plantier, whose talents don't suit the spacious Astrodome anyway. Plantier hit 34 home runs and drove in 100 runs for San Diego two years ago.

Around the horn

Arthur Rhodes, Kevin Brown and Jamie Moyer are scheduled to pitch today against Boston in Fort Myers. . . . The Opening Day starter will be announced in the next day or two, Regan said. It will be Mike Mussina, in all likelihood, but the Orioles want to make sure he and others on the staff are sound before making that official. . . . Harold Baines batted ninth yesterday because of designated hitter rules drawn up specifically for this very odd spring. He couldn't remember if he had ever hit that low before. . . .

Anderson said his right hamstring is "a little stiff. I'm kind of taking it easy." He continues to play, too -- Anderson went 1-for-4 with an RBI against the Phillies. . . . The Orioles likely will add "at least two, or maybe three players" from Triple-A Rochester sometime this week, Regan said. There is a complication -- for every player taken on, the Orioles must cut another from their 40-man roster. Pitchers Mike Oquist and Russell Brock and outfielder Jack Voigt appear vulnerable. The Orioles already must remove a player in order to add veteran outfielder Kevin Bass, who signed a minor-league contract Saturday. Bass' debut in an Orioles uniform could be today or tomorrow. . . .

From the Randy Johnson Blockbuster Deal Dept., Hemond said he hasn't talked with Seattle general manager Woody Woodward recently. . . . Second baseman Bret Barberie got his first hit of the spring yesterday, a single, and is 1-for-5. Slow start? Not exactly. Barberie already has seven walks and a hit by pitch, giving him an on-base percentage of .750 in the first four exhibitions. . . . Third baseman Leo Gomez hit an opposite-field homer.

Parting shot

Poor Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher who is going through a nasty divorce with Lynne Austin, the model who appears in advertisements for Hooters restaurants.

It just so happens that a Hooters billboard is plastered against the center-field fence at Jack Russell Stadium, meaning that any time Daulton looks out at the pitcher, he can see his soon-to-be ex-wife displayed about 12 feet high.

WAITING WITH THE WINGS

Later this week, manager Phil Regan said, the Orioles will add two or three players from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Infielder Jeff Huson, batting .333 and recovered from a strained stomach muscle, figures to be the position player, but the Red Wings have a number of strong pitching candidates. Here are their stats through Saturday's game at Norfolk:

Pitcher .. .. .. . Throws .. ...IP .. .H ..BB ..SO .. ..ERA

Mark Lee .. .. .. ..Left .. .. .6 2/3 .. .3 ...1 ..10 .. .0.00

Frank Seminara .. ..Right .. ...4 1/3 .. .1 ...0 ...1 .. .0.00

John Shea .. .. .. .Left .. .. .3 1/3 .. .1 ...1 ...2 .. .0.00

John DeSilva .. .. .Right .. ...13 .. .7 ...4 ..14 .. .2.08

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