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BASEBALL 2000: ORIOLES PROFILES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

19 Scott Erickson P

Age: 32. Height: 6-4. Weight: 230.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2003.

Role: No. 2 starter.

Career year: 1991 with Minnesota, 20-8, 3.18 ERA, five complete games, three shutouts, runner-up in Cy Young voting.

What's up in 2000: Once healthy, Erickson will be expected to devour innings.

By the numbers: Won 14 of his last 18 decisions. Led the AL with three shutouts. Tied with Sidney Ponson for second in AL with six complete games. Finished second in the AL in innings pitched with 230 1/3.

X-factor: How will he avoid a repeat after missing the entire exhibition schedule because of arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow?

27 Buddy Groom P

Age: 34. Height: 6-2. Weight: 207.

Bats: Left. Throws: Left.

Contract status: Signed through 2001.

Role: Left-handed setup/specialist.

Career year: 1996 with Oakland, 5-0 with a 3.84 ERA in 72 games.

What's up in 2000: Groom can take the place of departed reliever Jesse Orosco.

By the numbers: Tied with Minnesota's Bob Wells for most appearances in the AL at 76. Can become the first pitcher to appear in at least 70 games for five straight seasons. Averaged only 0.61 innings per outing, the lowest ratio in Oakland history. Allowed six of his last 34 inherited runners to score.

X-factor: Right-handers batted .315 against Groom last season.

60 Calvin Maduro P

Age: 25. Height: 6-0. Weight: 180.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Starter/long reliever.

Career year: 1999 with Triple-A Rochester, 11-11, 3.99 ERA.

What's up in 2000: Maduro pitched well enough this spring to earn the fourth starter's job.

By the numbers: Led Rochester in wins (11), innings (169), strikeouts (149), complete games (two) and starts (28). Had a 3.96 ERA on the road, 4.06 at home. Left-handers batted .270, right-handers hit .272. Made one relief appearance, in last game, and struck out the side to lower his ERA below 4.00.

X-factor: Maduro is out of options and can't be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.

47 Chuck McElroy P

Age: 32. Height: 6-0. Weight: 205.

Bats: Left. Throws: Left.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Left-handed middle reliever/set-up.

Career year: 1991 with Chicago Cubs, 6-2, 1.95 ERA in 71 games.

What's up in 2000: McElroy can serve as a bridge to closer Mike Timlin or be used for two or three innings.

By the numbers: Retired 11 of the 15 first batters he faced with the New York Mets. Recorded his 500th career strikeout on July 28, in his final appearance with Colorado. Retired only 21 of 41 first batters he faced with the Rockies. Was 0-for-3 in save situations with Colorado.

X-factor: Opponents had a .495 slugging percentage against him last season.

54 Jose Mercedes P

Age: 29. Height: 6-1. Weight: 180.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Long reliever/starter.

Career year: 1997 with Milwaukee, 7-10, 3.79 ERA in 29 games, including 23 starts.

What's up in 2000: He provides the versatility to start or pitch out of the bullpen. He'll open the season as the fifth starter.

By the numbers: Didn't allow a run this spring in his first 13 innings. Went a combined 5-9 with a 3.70 ERA in 25 games among Triple-A affiliates Las Vegas, Calgary and Norfolk. Was 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in Dominican Winter League.

X-factor: Mercedes can be used in long relief or as a spot starter, but the Orioles must clear room for him on the 40-man roster.

35 Mike Mussina P

Age: 31. Height: 6-2. Weight: 185.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: No. 1 starter.

Career year: 1995, 19-9, 3.29 ERA, four shutouts.

What's up in 2000: As always, Mussina enters the season as a strong candidate for his first 20-win season and first Cy Young Award.

By the numbers: His .673 winning percentage is the highest ever among right-handers with at least 200 innings. Allowed only four of nine runners to steal off him, tied for the AL's best percentage (44.4). Averaged 7.61 strikeouts per nine innings. Allowed only 11.5 runners per nine innings.

X-factor: A pending free agent, Mussina has a chance to break the bank.

43 Sidney Ponson P

Age: 23. Height: 6-1. Weight: 225.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: No. 3 starter.

Career year: 1999, 12-12, 4.71 ERA, six complete games.

What's up in 2000: Ponson will begin the season as the No. 2 starter until Scott Erickson returns. The team is banking on his development.Some club officials project him winning at least 15 games.

By the numbers: Had 19 quality starts. Tied a club record by allowing 35 homers. Was 5-7 with a 5.77 ERA in his last 16 starts. Had one victory in nine starts after Aug. 10. Struck out only 4.80 batters per nine innings, the fourth-lowest average in the AL.

X-factor: Ponson must do a better job of keeping the ball in the park.

34 Pat Rapp P

Age: 32. Height: 6-3. Weight: 215.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2001.

Role: Starter/long reliever.

Career year: 1995 with Florida, 14-7, 3.44 ERA.

What's up in 2000: Rapp was signed to be the fifth starter and pitched well enough to make the rotation. He could be the fourth or fifth starter while Scott Erickson is out, or be used in long relief. The rotation is most likely to be his domain.

By the numbers: Had a 2.66 ERA in 11 relief appearances. Allowed 20 runs in his first six starts. Went 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA in his last 13 starts.

X-factor: He's a high-pitch guy on a club that can't afford it because of a delicate bullpen.

32 Al Reyes P

Age: 28. Height: 6-1. Weight: 206.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Middle relief.

Career year: 1998 with Milwaukee, 5-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 50 games.

What's up in 2000: Made a late charge in spring training.He can gobble up innings when one of the starters makes an early exit.

By the numbers: Opponents batted .206 against him while with Milwaukee. Struck out all three batters he faced in Orioles debut on July 25. Didn't allow a run in 11 of his first 14 games with Orioles. Had a 9.00 ERA in his last 13 games.

X-factor: Was the real Al Reyes whom the Orioles saw last summer or in September? Early in spring training or late?

52 B. J. Ryan P

Age: 24. Height: 6-6. Weight: 230.

Bats: Left. Throws: Left.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Left-handed middle relief.

Career year: 1999, 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 13 games.

What's up in 2000: Ryan could be the closer-in-waiting, but he'll be on standby for a while.

By the numbers: Allowed runs in only two of 13 appearances with the Orioles. Pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts in the final game. Was 0-0 with one save and a 2.51 ERA in 11 games at Triple-A Rochester. Pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his last five games with the Red Wings.

X-factor: He's hardly a one-dimensional pitcher. Left-handers batted .192 against him; right-handers batted .118.

40 Mike Timlin P

Age: 34. Height: 6-4. Weight: 210.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2002.

Role: Closer.

Career year: 1996 with Toronto, 1-6 with a 3.65 ERA and 31 saves.

What's up in 2000: Timlin goes into the season as the undisputed closer after a strong spring.

By the numbers: Tied for the AL lead with nine blown saves. Was 9-for-17 in save chances in the first half, 18-for-19 in the second half. Held opponents to a .221 average, including .185 after the break. Went one month between saves.

X-factor: Timlin must avoid the usual first-half struggles or he may not find as many save chances in the second half because Mike Trombley provides manager Mike Hargrove with an alternative.

28 Mike Trombley P

Age: 32. Height: 6-2. Weight: 204.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2001.

Role: Right-handed set-up.

Career year: 1999 with Minnesota, 2-8 with a 4.33 ERA and 24 saves in 75 games.

What's up in 2000: Trombley , signed as a free agent after eight seasons in Minnesota, is viewed as a set-up man with the capabilities to close if needed.

By the numbers: Converted 24 of 30 saves opportunities. First batters he faced hit .309. Didn't allow a run in his first 11 appearances. Appeared in his 300th career game on May 4. Pitched five innings vs. Oakland on May 21.

X-factor: He'll need to be more efficient against right-handed hitters, who batted .296 with 11 homers.

36 Tim Worrell P

Age: 32. Height: 6-4. Weight: 231.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2000.

Role: Long and middle relief.

Career year: 1996 with San Diego, 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 50 games.

What's up in 2000: Worrell can make the occasional start if needed..

By the numbers: Right-handers hit .229 against him, but left-handers batted .285. Allowed seven of nine inherited runners to score over his first 16 games. Let 25 of 49 inherited runners to score, the most in the AL. Inherited six bases-loaded situations, and allowed all three runners to score four times.

X-factor: Can he stay away from the walks and do a better job cleaning up other pitcher's messes?

21 Charles Johnson C

Age: 28. Height: 6-2. Weight: 220.

Bats: Right. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Pending free agent.

Projected role: Starting catcher.

Career year: 1997. Helped Florida Marlins to world championship by hitting .250 with career-high 19 home runs and 63 RBIs.

What's up in 2000: An arbitration loss became a poor welcome to spring training. Johnson narrowed his strike zone this spring and tightened his swing.

By the numbers: Threw out 39.8 percent of would-be stealers last season Fatigue contributed to his hitting one of 16 HRs and seven of 54 RBIs after Aug. 6.

X-factor: Johnson must find greater offensive consistency. A better April than last (one HR, one RBI) would be a good start.

37 Greg Myers C

Age: 33. Height: 6-2. Weight: 225.

Bats: Left. Throws: Right.

Contract status: Signed through 2001.

Projected role: Backup catcher, lefthanded pinch hitter.

Career year: 1996. Avoided injury long enough to play 97 games, hitting .286 with Twins. Received more than 300 at-bats for one of only two times in 11-year career.

What's up in 2000: Myers has been a catcher to the stars. Now he must handle a developing starting rotation in support of Johnson.

By the numbers: Of Myers' 52 career home runs, 50 have come against right-handed pitching but none has come in 38 at-bats at Camden Yards.

X-factor: A dead pull hitter, Myers could become a potent power force in Camden Yards.

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