FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Kevin Brown dusted off his throwing arm after an eight-month hiatus yesterday and delivered a solid three-inning performance in his first competitive appearance in an Orioles uniform.
Brown entered the game in the fifth inning and quickly retired the Boston Red Sox on three ground-ball outs. He also pitched a scoreless sixth before giving up a run on three hits in his final inning, but it was a successful first outing for a veteran pitcher who was just happy to be pitching instead of negotiating.
"My arm didn't fall off . . . that was good, after eight months," said Brown, who played such an active role in the labor dispute that it cut into his off-season workout regimen. "It was just nice to get some work in."
It was just a first outing, so he didn't come in with any great expectations, but Brown left with the feeling that one aspect of his difficult 1994 season will soon be a distant memory. He is a sinkerball pitcher who depends heavily on infield defense, and didn't get much help last year, but the Orioles welcomed him with a couple of flashy plays in his first inning of work.
Second baseman Manny Alexander ranged far to his right to knock down a sharp grounder and throw out Bill Haselman for the second out of the fifth inning. Then Cal Ripken went up the middle to rob Rich Rowland of a possible hit.
"I could see right away, the difference in the defense," Brown said. "There was a ball up the middle that was so hard I just tried to stick my foot out for a kick save. I missed, but when I looked up Manny was standing right there. It's a huge boost to have guys making plays like that behind you."
Manager Phil Regan said that Brown was only scheduled to pitch two innings but threw so few pitches (20) in the first two innings that he went back out for a third.
"He had two real good innings and maybe got a little tired in the last one," Regan said. "But he told me coming in that he could be ready in three weeks. He's one of the few pitchers I've heard say that."
Moyer adjusting to relief role
Left-hander Jamie Moyer pitched a scoreless inning of relief yesterday to set up Doug Jones and may have to adjust to a variety of bullpen scenarios in his likely role as long reliever/spot starter.
"I just have to take it day by day," Moyer said. "I'm getting the opportunity to pitch. That's the main thing. These obviously aren't pressure situations, but I'm getting game situations, which is something you can't simulate."
Moyer can see himself pitching one inning in the middle of a game, or seven innings if something happens to one of the starters early in the game. He has worked in that kind of situation before, so he isn't concerned about the adjustment.
"I've been in the situation where you get stuck out in the bullpen and forgotten, but I don't see that happening here," he said. "If the coaching staff has confidence in you, you're going to have confidence in yourself."
Manto branching out
Third baseman Jeff Manto delivered his first hit of the spring yesterday, driving a towering fly ball over the left-center-field fence off Red Sox reliever Gar Finnvold. He hasn't gotten off to a strong start at the plate, but he remains a strong candidate for a utility role.
He originally signed as an outfielder, but has played mostly at the infield corners during his career. Regan says he may do even more if he makes the Orioles' 28-man roster.
"I talked to him today and told him I might use him to catch an inning in the next few days," Regan said. "I know he can play the outfield. But we've got a lot of outfielders around here."
Getting some rest
Second baseman Bret Barberie and third baseman Leo Gomez got the day off yesterday and Regan expects to spell some of the other likely starters later this week.
"I'm probably going to give [Rafael] Palmeiro the day off on Friday and Ripken on Saturday," he said.
Fan appreciation day?
The Orioles will sign autographs on the field before Sunday's exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Camden Yards. After the game, kids 14 and under will be allowed to come down to the field and take a home run trot around the bases.
If it sounds like another attempt to reconnect with the fans in the wake of the bitter labor dispute between the players and owners, the Orioles plead guilty.
Welcome back, Part II
The Texas Rangers have tendered right-handed pitcher Francisco Saneaux back to the Orioles. As a Rule V draftee, Saneaux (4-12, 6.54 ERA in Single-A last year) had to remain on the Rangers' major-league roster for the season or be returned to
UPS AND DOWNS
The good and the bad from the Orioles' 11-2 exhibition win over the Boston Red Sox yesterday:
* Left-hander Arthur Rhodes pitched four innings in his second exhibition start, giving up a run on one hit and striking out five. He has given up just that one hit -- a single by Terry Shumpert -- in six spring innings.
* Third baseman Jeff Manto hit a towering two-run home run off Red Sox pitcher Gar Finnvold in the fifth inning, his first hit in eight exhibition at-bats.
* Jeffrey Hammonds made his first competitive appearance since undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right knee. He batted three times, walking twice and flying out to right, and reported no problems.
* Shortstop Cal Ripken struck out looking three times and got into a brief -- but relatively friendly -- argument with replacement umpire Jim Paylor. Ripken had one soft single in five at-bats, but got credit for the game-winning RBI.
* The Orioles left 12 runners on base.
* Four Red Sox pitchers were charged with more runs than innings pitched.
* After a night game Sunday, the Red Sox lineup did not include one player projected to be among the Opening Day starting nine.