The Orioles finalized their Opening Day roster yesterday, making four cuts after the exhibition game. There were no major surprises, but many winners and losers.
The winners: Outfielder Jack Voigt, who survived a ride on the bubble; utility infielder Jeff Manto, who, like Voigt, has sweated out the last week, waiting for a decision; and Mike Oquist, who becomes the 12th pitcher.
The losers: Catchers Cesar Devarez and Greg Zaun, and pitchers Joe Borowski and Scott Klingenbeck, who were optioned to Triple-A Rochester.
Orioles manager Phil Regan decided to start the season with 12 pitchers and 16 position players, including eight outfielders. "This allows me to keep Manto and Voigt," said Regan, "and I liked that."
Regan thought about keeping 13 pitchers, but he believes now that they could all pitch five innings in their first start, diminishing the demand. He thought about carrying three catchers -- especially in light of Chris Hoiles' sore shoulder -- but is satisfied that Hoiles is going to be OK.
There is still one more bit of roster maneuvering to be done. The Orioles need to create a spot on their 40-man roster for Kevin Bass, who is going to be with the team Opening Day. To do that, they may outright Triple-A left-hander Rick Krivda, assuming that he clears waivers. Krivda went 9-10 last year, and annoyed some within the organization last year when he said the Orioles weren't giving him a fair shot.
Other options include outrighting outfielders Jim Wawruck or Mark Smith, but a club source said the club is leaning toward cutting a pitcher.
There will be more juggling and tough decisions on May 15. That's the day that Regan must reduce his roster from 28 to 25.
Hoiles: Arm fine, throws aren't
Hoiles threw poorly again yesterday, bouncing an attempted pickoff to first base and unloading a throw to second into center field. But he says his shoulder, sore for much of the spring, continues to improve.
"A week ago it probably felt twice as bad as it is now," Hoiles said, who believes his throwing problems are more mechanical than physical. "This was only my fourth game of spring, and I'm trying to get my timing down. . . . My throws today were more of a timing [problem]."
Regan said: "I'm not real concerned because he doesn't have any pain in his arm."
Change by the numbers
They played an exhibition yesterday, but in many ways, this was the first real dress rehearsal for the regular season, and the players wanted to wear their proper dress.
So many veterans changed numbers yesterday. Reliever Jesse Orosco got his standard No. 47, which had been worn by Zaun. Bass got No. 17, with the blessing of Matt Nokes. And Andy Van Slyke wore No. 18, as he did for years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
No. 18 had been worn by Damon Buford, who switched to No. 26 without hesitation. "He said it wasn't a big deal," Buford said. "But I know if I had been wearing a certain number for that long, I would want it."
Buford was asked if he got something other than thanks in return, and that got his imagination rolling. "Put something in your paper about how Rickey Henderson gave Turner Ward $25,000 for No. 24 when he went to the Blue Jays," Buford said, grinning, "and then see what happens."
The message was relayed to Van Slyke. "I hear that's not true," Van Slyke said, smiling. "I don't think Rickey Henderson would pay $25,000 for his number."
Well, will there be a payoff for Buford?
Van Slyke thought for a moment, and said dryly, "He can have Randy Johnson."
Buford may play in place of Van Slyke against some lefties. Like Randy Johnson.
Huson fades from sight, mind
When the major-leaguers were on strike, Jeff Huson was training in Florida with the Orioles' minor-leaguers. Regan suggested several times that the utility infielder had a good shot to make the Opening Day roster.
But then the major-leaguers returned, Huson went to Rochester and fell out of the picture. He drove down from Rochester Saturday, played in yesterday's 8-7 exhibition victory over Philadelphia, and will play tonight in Philly. But then he's going back to Rochester.
"I'm happy to be here for two games," Huson said, "but I wished it would be longer."
He may have been hurt by not being in camp with the big-leaguers, but as he acknowledged, he may have been helped, too.
"You can look at it both ways," he said. "It is sometimes easier when you're not there to be overlooked. At the same time, I got a better look [from Regan and his coaches] than if there were no strike. So it evens out."
4( If there's an injury in the Orioles'
infield, Huson could be the first player considered for promotion.
Around the horn
Arthur Rhodes and Kevin Brown will fly to Florida today to pitch in an intrasquad game, Rhodes throwing five innings and Brown four. They will then rejoin the team and start in Minnesota next weekend, Brown on Saturday, Rhodes on Sunday. . . . Many of the Orioles returned to their lockers to find them in the exact same condition they were when the strike began last August. "I'm finding a lot of stuff I didn't know was here," said pitcher Ben McDonald. "A lot of old stuff." . . . Van Slyke hit a three-run homer in three at-bats. "It was nice to be on the field," he said. "I've still got a lot of kinks to work out physically. I've been in five hotels in five nights . . . and in three days, I'll have been in eight different hotels in eight nights."
Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds rested, but is still expected to start in Kansas City on Wednesday. . . . Regan likes his team, beyond the starting pitching and the good defense. "Underneath all that," Regan said, "I think we've got a great spirit on this club. They don't give up, they don't get too excited, they don't get too down. They've really blended very well."
The Orioles' 28-player Opening Day roster (the roster must be reduced to 25 by May 15):
PITCHERS (12) Armando Benitez
INFIELDERS (6) Manny Alexander
OUTFIELDERS (8) Brady Anderson
Andy Van Slyke