Ray Miller knows it won't be a popular move with fans attending tonight's exhibition game at Bowie, but the Orioles manager intends to pull most of his regulars after a few innings. Get them in and get them out, hopefully with their health intact.
Trying to hold his club together during a difficult stretch of injuries and poor play, Miller doesn't relish the timing of the game, which pits the Orioles against a collection of their minor-league all-stars. In the past, the Orioles played Triple-A Rochester in New York until the format was changed this year. It means shorter travel, but the same unwanted interruption.
The opponent will be comprised mostly of players from Single-A Frederick, Single-A Delmarva and Double-A Bowie. The Orioles will dip into Rochester's lineup for reinforcements.
Miller said his club will add about five pitchers and six position players, including three outfielders, so he can avoid starting tender veterans Joe Carter and Eric Davis. Pitcher Scott Kamieniecki is expected to throw two innings before Miller begins shuttling in minor-league arms to save his bullpen any unnecessary wear. Miller also plans to give extensive playing time to catcher Charlie Greene, infielder Jeff Reboulet and outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds.
"Obviously, Joe's legs aren't working too good, and E.D. is fine when I play him three days in a row, but his elbow is bothering him a little bit," Miller said.
"You don't look forward to playing an exhibition game, but we'll do what you normally do. You play them one or two at-bats, then get them out of there and put a bunch of minor-leaguers in and have people boo you because your team doesn't look good. But with all due respect, the big-league club shows up and signs autographs and introduces themselves. I think that's the attraction.
"We're trying to get through critical injuries right now and you go play a game where something could happen. You don't know what a young kid's going to do on the mound, pitching to Cal Ripken or Raffy Palmeiro, whether he's going to get nervous and overthrow and maybe hit one of them or something, and you don't know what to do. But it's something we've got to do, so we'll get through it."
Miller also lamented the home run hitting contest, which he fears will cause some players to develop bad habits.
"I don't like them when you're going good and I don't like them when you're struggling," he said. "You're asking people to do what you try to get them not to do the whole year, trying to hit the ball over the fence. I don't like that. I guess somebody lobbing it up there is good for the fans, but "
Erickson moved up
The way Miller and pitching coach Mike Flanagan have the rotation set up, Scott Erickson will work on three days' rest when he starts Wednesday in Cleveland. Erickson threw 101 pitches over six-plus innings in Saturday's loss to Minnesota.
"He's more than willing to do it," Miller said, "and I think in the long run it will help us because it will get [Mike] Mussina and Erickson split up. I'll put [Jimmy] Key between them and hopefully give our bullpen a little break."
Key will open the two-game series in Cleveland tomorrow. Doug Drabek is scheduled to pitch Friday in Tampa Bay, with Mussina going Saturday on five days' rest. Key would close out the series on Sunday, and Erickson would start next Monday in Minnesota.
Kamieniecki, eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, is penciled in for the next night's start in Minnesota. He threw in the bullpen Friday and would have three more side sessions before his return.
Kamieniecki is one of the few Orioles who benefits from tonight's exhibition. "I just want to get in a game situation," he said.
"The groin is more of a concern because it's what led to the elbow. I've been able to throw. Throwing's no problem. The elbow's fine. I just hope the groin holds up."
Waiting on Anderson
Miller said he expects to know more concerning Brady Anderson's return in the next three or four days. Anderson has been hitting off a tee and can come off the DL tomorrow but isn't fully recovered from a strained right shoulder.
"He said he didn't feel any pain. It's a little tired in that area," Miller said. "I know Brady. If it gets to the point where he thinks it isn't too bad, he'll gear it up and come ready to play."
Doctors have said Anderson hasn't experienced any setbacks. "If you ask Brady, he'd say, 'How do they know?' " Miller said.
Anderson has made himself scarce in the clubhouse before and after games.
Same old New York
Winning for the third time in four games didn't gain the Orioles any ground in the AL East standings. New York and Boston continued their torrid starts with victories yesterday.
"You've got to get your own house in order before you worry about the other clubs," Miller said.
They do cross his mind on occasion. "They're playing at an .850 clip, or whatever. Nobody's ever done that. It makes common sense that they've got to have something set them back, and if they don't it doesn't matter what we do."
Around the horn
Mussina's strikeout of David Ortiz in the fifth inning was the 1,012th of his career, moving him past Mike Cuellar into fourth place on the Orioles' career list. Carter hit a foul ball in the first inning that cleared the sun roof covering the top portion of the upper deck in left field. He later extended his hitting streak to five games with a single. Minnesota's Todd Walker has hit in nine straight games. The Orioles honored the 1998 Maryland Teachers of the Year before the game. Radio announcer Fred Manfra returned to the booth after missing two games because of laryngitis. Under doctor's orders, he also didn't call Saturday's Kentucky Derby for ABC Radio, the first time he's missed the race since 1981. Manfra joked that he was headed to Rochester on a rehabilitation assignment.
Pub Date: 5/04/98