Pickering knuckles under in debut Sparks' fluttering pitches whiff Baysox star 3 times


Manager Ray Miller's philosophy with young players who are just up from the minors is to get them at-bats as soon as possible. Don't keep them waiting too long, where nerves and doubts can set in.

Double-A infielder Jerry Hairston started at second base Friday night, going 0-for-3 with a run scored. And yesterday, Bowie teammate Calvin Pickering took his turn, serving as the Orioles' designated hitter.

"The biggest thing for all these guys is just to see the big leagues," Miller said.

Pickering saw enough of knuckleballer Steve Sparks, striking out in all three at-bats in a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Angels.

Pickering, who led the Eastern League with 31 homers, 114 RBIs and a .566 slugging percentage, swung through a high knuckler to end the first inning and strand two runners. He also struck out leading off the fourth and sixth before Harold Baines pinch hit for him in the eighth. Baines also struck out, making him 1-for-14 lifetime against Sparks.

"I've got to talk to Pickering. I guess that wasn't too good an idea," Miller said, grinning.

Before the game, Miller said he had no qualms about starting Pickering against an unorthodox pitcher like Sparks.

"The thing you've got to do with a knuckleballer is make him get the ball up and try to hit it the other way. And that's what he does well, hit the ball the other way. He has strong power to left-center," Miller said.

"I guess that's not exactly the major-league debut you'd like to have, trying to hit a knuckleballer."

Miller said another Bowie player, Ryan Minor, will get some innings later in the week. Minor, who struck out a league-leading 152 times and batted .250 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs, will be used as a defensive replacement at third base and first. He also will pinch hit and might start, "depending on who we face," Miller said.

"I've got 35 guys here," Miller said. "I've got an offense, a defense, special teams and two guys left over."

Minor was given clearance to play after having his left wrist checked by an orthopedic doctor. The wrist, which was taped as he took ground balls at third yesterday, has been bothering him for a few months, he said.

"There are some bone chips in there, but I think that's old. It's more of a sprain," Minor said. "After winter ball, it'll be back to normal."

Mulling a start for Fussell

There's a chance minor-league pitcher Chris Fussell will make a start, rather than being used exclusively in relief.

"I'd like to get him in a game first," Miller said. "He's got great stuff. He's kind of a nervous kid, so you want to get the first one out of the way."

Because Fussell, 22, is accustomed to starting, Miller will allow .. the right-hander to begin an inning rather than coming in with runners on base.

Fussell, the club's ninth-round selection in the 1994 draft, went 5-2 with a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Rochester. He began the season at Bowie, going 3-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 18 starts.

"Everybody kept telling me all year that he wasn't ready, but everybody I've talked to said he's going to be a good major-league pitcher," Miller said.

Early exit

Angels third base coach Larry Bowa was thrown out by plate umpire Rick Reed for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout with the Orioles batting in the first inning. He was replaced by manager Terry Collins.

The ejection occurred with one out and the count 1-2 on Brady Anderson. It was Bowa's first ejection this year, and the Angels' 12th.

Around the horn

Eugene Kingsale, recalled from Double-A Bowie on Sept. 1, pinch-ran for Cal Ripken in the eighth inning. Despite their two errors, the Orioles still lead the majors with only 70. Anaheim's Chris Pritchett extended his hitting streak to eight games with a second-inning single. Roberto Alomar had his ninth three-hit game of the season.

Orioles today

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 1: 35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Jack McDowell (4-3, 4.12) vs. Orioles' Rocky Coppinger (0-0, 0.00)

Tickets: Scattered singles remain

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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