FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Anytime a pitcher inside the Orioles' clubhouse bemoans his 2002 statistics, especially a rough stretch late in the season, Pat Hentgen gladly offers his September numbers in a trade.
Nobody will take them.
Before yesterday, Hentgen would have made the same hard sell on his spring training stats and probably felt like he was peddling Enron stock. His third appearance yielded more favorable results, though he still struggled.
With the Orioles facing another watered-down lineup, Hentgen allowed two runs and five hits over four innings in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Marlins.
Hentgen is 0-2 this spring.
Al Martin singled with one out in the second inning but was stranded at second when Ramon Castro grounded to the mound. Alex Gonzalez and Juan Pierre reached on infield hits in the third, and a walk loaded the bases before Jong-Soo Shim lifted a sacrifice fly. Derrek Lee struck out looking, which brought applause from majority Orioles owner Peter Angelos, sitting in the front row beside the dugout.
Martin lined a double into right field leading off the fourth and scored with two outs on Gonzalez's single.
Trying to make the rotation after ligament-transplant surgery in August 2001, Hentgen allowed five runs and seven hits over three innings in Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Twins. His first outing, two innings of relief against the Marlins, produced a run, three hits, one walk and a hit batter.
"I threw the ball pretty good today," said Hentgen, who was 0-4 with a 7.77 ERA in four September starts. "I didn't have a good cutter, but I kept them off-balance with my changeup. I thought it was an all right outing."
Manager Mike Hargrove said the difference between Hentgen today and in September is "night and day."
"He's stronger," Hargrove said, "and he has much better command of his pitches."
The Orioles bought out Hentgen's option year for 2003, which would have paid him $6 million, and re-signed him at $1.2 million, with a $300,000 buyout in 2004. He could earn $4 million total this year with incentives.
"I'm always thinking about results. It's the nature of the beast," he said. "Heck, yeah, I wanted to have a good outing. There's a lot of competition here."
Pitcher Scott Erickson underwent surgery Friday in Los Angeles to repair a torn glenoid labrum in his right shoulder, and executive vice president Jim Beattie doesn't expect him to pitch this season.
Before leaving Fort Lauderdale, Erickson said he hoped to return in September.
"They went in and found there was some damage in there," Beattie said. "It definitely puts him out for the year, no question about that."
Pausing for a few seconds, Beattie said, "You never say never, but it doesn't look like he'll pitch this year."
Expanded pitching staff
Hargrove still intends to begin the season with a 12-man pitching staff, which would leave him with four position players on the bench.
An expanded staff increases the chances of left-hander Eric DuBose making the team out of spring training as a third left-hander if the Orioles don't trade B.J. Ryan or Buddy Groom.
Because of DuBose's experience as a starter in the minors, he would be used more in long relief than as a specialist against left-handed batters.
"He's very versatile," Hargrove said. "Eric has the ability to be a match-up guy late in the ballgame, but he has a starter's mentality."
Ripken Baseball will hold its inaugural invitational tournament for 11- and 12-year-old youth baseball teams from Aug. 4 - 8 in Aberdeen. The games will be open to teams of any affiliation and will be played at the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy.
In a statement, Cal Ripken said: "Wlth the first phase of construction on our youth baseball academy scheduled to be completed by June, and with a summer of instructional programs already set, we wanted to offer something for youth teams. Since we are planning on running tournaments as well as instructlonal programs in the future, we thought it was logical to hold at least one tournament this summer.
Each team in the tournament is guaranteed to play a minimum of five games. Fields will be set with 70-foot basepaths. Players eligible to compete on 11-12 teams this summer are allowed to participate, with rosters limited to 15 players, a manager and two coaches. The cost is $2,250 per team, which breaks down to $150 per player for a full roster.
The first phase of the Ripken Academy, which will be located across the street from Ripken Stadium, will include three youth fields, a multipurpose grass field and a synthetic training infield.
Information: 1-800-486-0850, or www. ripkenbaseball.com.