Frustrated Fernandez says speed is slim, too

THE BALTIMORE SUN

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Left-hander Sid Fernandez, who has lost 40 pounds since the end of last season, pitched poorly for the second straight outing yesterday and suggested that the reduction of weight has hurt his fastball.

Fernandez allowed five hits, a walk and two runs in three innings in the Orioles' 6-3 exhibition victory over the Minnesota Twins.

"I just don't feel like I'm throwing hard," he said. "Part of the reason is that I lost all this weight. I feel like a little wimp."

Fernandez was asked if he talked to the coaching staff about whether there was a connection.

"No," he said. "It's my own opinion. What's the sense of looking good if you're not getting anybody out?

"Everyone has pitched well. I'm the only guy struggling. What's the use?"

Orioles manager Phil Regan wasn't surprised at Fernandez's frustration. When Fernandez came off the field, Regan said, he threw his glove into the dugout trash can. Regan thinks Fernandez was frustrated that a high fly dropped down the right-field line for a double, and at allowing runs.

"That's fine," Regan said. "That just shows he's a competitor."

Regan disagreed with Fernandez's theory that the weight loss has hurt his fastball. "Power pitchers always go through this in spring training," Regan said. "I think Sid is probably going through that stage. Alan Mills can throw about 90 mph, and he wasn't throwing that hard today, either.

"As far as losing his fastball because he's losing weight, I don't think so."

In five innings this spring, Fernandez has allowed eight hits, four runs, walked three and struck out three.

Hitting his heavy weight

Oddly, a player deemed a little too heavy by Regan is having a great spring: third baseman Leo Gomez is batting .467 with two homers and three RBIs.

Regan talked with Gomez on Tuesday about cutting down his weight, and Gomez agreed.

"I'd like to lose a little," said Gomez. "Five or 10 pounds. I want to lose the weight so I don't get hurt. . . . I want to be down to about 215. I'll be all right."

Stiff shoulder idles Hoiles

Catcher Chris Hoiles missed his fourth game of this shortened spring training, most of them because of a sore right shoulder. "It's been a little bit stiff," said Regan, adding that Hoiles may sit today and tomorrow. "That way, he'll have gotten a chance to rest it for two or three days."

Regan said he expects Hoiles to be ready for Opening Day, Wednesday in Kansas City.

Hoiles agreed. "Oh, yeah, I'll be in there Opening Day," he said. "Even if I don't play another game this spring, I'll definitely be in there Opening Day."

The Orioles are expected to carry three catchers at the outset of the season -- Hoiles, Matt Nokes and either Greg Zaun or Cesar Devarez.

McDonald cuts repertoire

Ben McDonald pitched three shutout innings yesterday, and did it with only three of his five pitches.

McDonald said he plans to start the year throwing his fastball, slider and changeup; for the time being, he'll ignore his cut fastball and his forkball.

The reasons for this are twofold: The shortened spring training and because McDonald is recovering from a stiff elbow, both reducing the time he normally needs to hone all five of his pitches.

"I haven't gotten around to working on them as much as I'd like to," McDonald said. "It was just because I missed a couple of batting practice workouts. It's tough to [get ready] in three weeks.

"Most of the time you only use three anyway, but it's nice to have five. When you leave the bullpen [for each start], you have to have three working."

McDonald plans to work on the other two as he works in the bullpen.

In the running, Part I

McDonald had been in the outfield shagging fly balls and doing some sprints when pitching coach Mike Flanagan stopped him and asked, "Do you always do this on game day?"

It was at that moment that McDonald realized that there had been a misunderstanding, and that he was supposed to pitch yesterday; McDonald thought he was going to start today's game against Boston.

"I'm glad I brought down all my stuff," he said, referring to his spikes and uniform. "It's been a confusing spring, to say the least."

In the running, Part II

Call them the Go-Go Orioles: the O's have 10 stolen bases in their first eight games. Third baseman Jeff Manto stole his second of spring yesterday. Damon Buford and Manny Alexander also had steals.

Around the horn

The Orioles optioned first baseman Paul Carey, outfielder Alex Ochoa and pitchers Rick Krivda and Jimmy Haynes to Triple-A Rochester. They will join the Red Wings and begin playing immediately. . . . Second baseman Bret Barberie is batting .100 this spring (1-for-10).

Jeffrey Hammonds' right knee continues to hold up well. . . . Talks are ongoing regarding long-term contracts with McDonald and Mike Mussina, according to a club source. . . . The sore right shoulder of designated hitter Harold Baines is getting better, he says. . . . Regan is pleased with the defensive play of Nokes this spring. . . . General manager Roland Hemond, assistant GM Frank Robinson, Regan and the coaching staff met last night to discuss more cuts, some of which may be announced today. Regan said it may not be until Monday, when the Orioles are in Philadelphia, that he finalizes his roster.

Parting shot

From the bus-lagged mind of media relations director John Maroon to your newspaper: The Orioles, baseball's perpetual road team this spring, have logged 916 miles in bus trips, and before the spring is over, that total will reach 1,148. Maroon notes, perhaps bitterly, that this mile count doesn't count Monday's bus trip to Philadelphia.

UPS AND DOWNS

The good and the bad from the Orioles' 6-3 exhibition victory over the Minnesota Twins yesterday:

HIGHLIGHTS

* Outfielder Andy Van Slyke went 1-for-2, and if the criterion for the decision to sign the veteran is whether or not he's healthy, then he will sign. Van Slyke looked fine hitting, running and throwing.

* First baseman Rafael Palmeiro went 3-for-3, including a two-run double.

* Ben McDonald threw three hitless innings.

* Right fielder Sherman Obando had an RBI triple, and is batting .400 this spring.

* Reliever Alan Mills threw two shutout innings.

* Twelve Orioles got hits.

* The Orioles turned two double plays and went errorless again; they've gone 44 innings since committing their only error of spring training.

LOWLIGHT

* Starter Sid Fernandez allowed five hits and two runs in three innings.

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