March 27, 1999

Orioles not going for fun, want to beat Cuba

                  FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles will enjoy the
                  sights and sounds of Cuba this weekend as guests of a country that
                  hasn't played host to a major league team in 40 years.

                  There's a baseball game to played, too. And the Orioles intend to win it.

                  The Cuban national team is composed of amateurs who probably aren't
                  as talented as the Orioles and receive far less financial compensation for
                  their work. In addition, the Cubans will use wooden bats instead of the
                  aluminum ones they've been swinging for more than two decades.

                  So, although it's only an exhibition game, the Orioles probably will be
                  embarrassed if they don't win Sunday.

                  "We'd better not lose," said starting pitcher Scott Erickson, who is
                  scheduled to throw around 100 pitches. "You don't play games to lose, even
                  if it's cards."

                  Baltimore manager Ray Miller said he expects the Cubans to treat the
                  exhibition as if it were the seventh game of the World Series. The Orioles, in
                  turn, know their chances of getting into the 1999 World Series could
                  collapse if Albert Belle or Will Clark gets injured.

                  "It's a no-win situation. My only goal going there is to play a good game and
                  get out of there healthy," Miller said. "With the game being on national TV,
                  you just hope somebody doesn't gets excited and goes the extra mile and
                  hurts himself."

                  But this isn't just another spring training game. Instead of playing before
                  5,000 tanning tourists in Florida, the Orioles will represent major league
                  baseball and the United States in front of a crowd of 50,000.

                  "Believe me, Ray will be managing to win and we'll be playing to win,"
                  catcher Lenny Webster said. "It's just an exhibition game, but we know
                  they're very talented."

                  Cuba has dominated the sport at the Olympic level but has never faced a
                  team with the reputation of the Orioles. By winning this game, the Cubans
                  would greatly enhance their standing in the world order.

                  "There's no question the game will be more important to them. It's really their
                  last barometer in measuring where they are in their baseball," Orioles left
                  fielder B.J. Surhoff said. "They're considered the best amateur team in the
                  world, year-in, year-out, but the key word there is amateur."

                  Can mere amateurs beat a team of professionals who cumulative payroll
                  exceeds $80 million?

                  It's not entirely impossible. After all, many former Cuban players have
                  enjoyed success in the majors, including Tony Oliva, Tony Perez and Luis
                  Tiant. New York Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez, New York Yankees pitcher
                  Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Florida Marlins pitcher Livan
                  Hernandez are defectors currently enjoying success at the big league level.

                  But most Cubans never get a chance to make big money in the major
                  leagues - not necessarily because they lack the baseball skills, but because
                  they can't leave the country for a tryout.

                  "I'm looking forward to going there and talking to those guys, ask them how
                  they feel and how they do it," Orioles pitcher Ricky Bones said. "I know
                  those guys have some talent and they should have the same right we do, to
                  play anywhere and play and become professional one of these days."