FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It was apparent when first baseman Rafael Palmeiro walked into camp almost two weeks ago that he'd worked out during the off-season. His shirts seemed to stretch a little bit more across his chest and shoulders.
Palmeiro lifted weights and so as not to bulk up too much, he mixed in some stretching exercises; he feels as if he's increased his strength. He launched a tape-measure homer in the first inning of the 3-1 exhibition win over the New York Mets yesterday, a tremendous shot that cleared the bleachers beyond the right-field wall.
Teammate Bobby Bonilla nodded his approval afterward. "Raffy," he said, "that was longer than the rest of our hits combined."
Hoiles flashed caution sign
Manager Davey Johnson told catcher Chris Hoiles, making his first appearance of the spring behind the plate, to take it easy with his throwing, lest he aggravate his shoulder. Hoiles followed instructions, making sure he had his footwork down on his throws but never really letting loose. That made for three accurate but weak throws to second, where Hoiles cut down one of three runners attempting to steal second.
"He's probably two weeks behind where he'd like to be," Johnson said. "His legs are in pretty good shape. It's just his arm you worry about. A big guy like that, you don't want him rushing it and having a setback."
Hoiles threw too much too soon last spring and injured his shoulder, never really regaining his strength until after the All-Star break. His shoulder feels great now, he said after yesterday's game, but Hoiles can understand why Johnson is cautious.
"There's not even a comparison," Hoiles said, between how he feels now and how he felt last spring. "At this time last year, I couldn't even lift my arm above my head. There's no pain, throwing or hitting."
At bat, Hoiles went 0-for-3.
Myers, Rhodes, Mills test
The B squad game tomorrow in St. Petersburg is shaping up to be of A-game importance. Reliever Randy Myers, who reported a week after the other pitchers, will throw an inning, as will Arthur Rhodes and Alan Mills, both throwing against another team for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery.
Rhodes and Mills threw in the bullpen yesterday, and both tried a few breaking balls for the first time, with no ill effects.
Bonilla and the write stuff
Bonilla became the latest to participate in a Fox network commercial yesterday, at offices of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. In the commercial, Bonilla follows a reporter, badgering him for his mistakes, missing deadline, spelling errors in his stories, etc. -- a reversal in the supposed roles between players and journalists.
At one point during the ad, Bonilla follows the reporter into the bathroom to continue his badgering.
All in good fun. And all in the name of humanizing baseball players, something other sports, particularly the NBA, have been doing for years. "It's going to put us in a different light," Bonilla said, laughing. "It'll show we can do other things except mess up."
In one of the other ads, Cal Ripken is confronted by a bitter mailman who points out that he never misses a day of work, either.
Around the horn
The bruise on Mike Mussina's right leg, caused by a line drive in Saturday's exhibition, did not prevent him from participating in workouts yesterday. . . . The Orioles are looking for a backup catcher, and two other possibilities besides Toronto's Randy Knorr could be Carlos Hernandez of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tim Spehr of Montreal, who are both available for trade. . . . Left-hander Rick Krivda threw three shutout innings, allowing three hits. He spent the off-season with bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks working on a cut fastball that bores in on right-handed hitters. . . . Donald Fehr, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, met with the Orioles for about an hour yesterday morning, briefing them on the progress of the labor talks since the end of last season. "Nothing really earth-shattering," said Surhoff. "They're just trying to keep [the negotiations] low-key and let players play until they work something out."
Bonilla was booed heavily by yesterday's crowd, which included many Mets fans. . . . Former Orioles prospect Alex Ochoa, traded as part of the deal for Bonilla last July, played center field and went hitless in one at-bat. . . . While most of the players made the trip to Viera for the first exhibition Saturday, the Orioles' clubhouse in Fort Lauderdale turned into a battle zone for pitchers Myers, Mills and Roger McDowell. Myers was last seen chasing Mills with his cattle prod (in good fun).
The New York writers asked Johnson how the personalities of relievers McDowell, Myers and Jesse Orosco have changed over the years. "Roger, maybe he's a little more mellow," Johnson said. "Jesse, maybe a little bit more reserved. Randy, he's probably gotten worse."
Ups and downs
Some of the highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' exhibition game yesterday:
* The Orioles allowed just one walk -- the only walk allowed by the Orioles' pitching staff in two games.
* Manny Alexander, starting at third base, went 2-for-2 and made a couple of sensational defensive plays.
* First baseman Rafael Palmeiro hit a long homer off Mets starter Jason Isringhausen in the first inning, over the bleachers in right field.
* Jeffrey Hammonds went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
* Rick Krivda, who followed starter Scott Erickson, pitched three shutout innings.
* The Orioles left 10 runners on base, not fully taking advantage of seven walks by Mets pitchers.