The Washington Post
March 30, 1999
O's Complete Their Time Travel
After Historic Trip to Cuba, Weary Team Regroups for Opener

                  By Dave Sheinin
                  Washington Post Staff Writer
                  Tuesday, March 30, 1999; Page D03

                  FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 29—The Baltimore Orioles returned
                  to the United States and 1999 today, and found everything pretty much as
                  they had left it. Playing a historic game in Cuba on Sunday did not appear
                  to have changed them in any profound way, other than making them tired,
                  sluggish and thankful for small luxuries such as running water.

                  "I'm just fatigued," said pitcher Doug Linton, who nonetheless started and
                  pitched five solid innings in the Orioles' 7-6 exhibition win over St. Louis
                  today. "I think everyone feels the same. It was a long two days [in Cuba]."

                  With the Cuba game and all its attending hoopla finally behind them, the
                  Orioles returned to the task at hand -- preparing for Opening Day, which
                  looms only a week away. The first order of business was paring down the
                  roster, which they accomplished by optioning second baseman Jerry
                  Hairston Jr. and outfielder Lyle Mouton to Class AAA Rochester, and
                  reassigning catcher Julio Vinas to their minor league camp. The moves left
                  the club with 32 players.

                  In addition, the Orioles made a minor trade, sending minor league
                  outfielder Danny Clyburn to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for pitcher Jason
                  Johnson, a big (6 feet 6), hard-throwing, 25-year-old right-hander who
                  impressed the Orioles when they faced him last September.

                  Johnson has started and relieved in his career, and he made 13 major
                  league starts for the Devil Rays last season. He is expected to pitch for the
                  Orioles in Wednesday's exhibition game against the Florida Marlins.
                  However, unless he is so impressive that he unseats Linton as the team's
                  fill-in starter, Johnson likely will begin the season in Rochester.

                  "We've been talking about [Johnson] all spring," Orioles Manager Ray
                  Miller said. "He throws in the mid-90s, is a big, strong kid. Just another
                  strong arm. [General Manager] Frank Wren is my hero because he keeps
                  accumulating as many strong, young arms as he can."

                  The Orioles need a fill-in starter because the number four starter is likely to
                  miss his first start of the season. Scott Kamieniecki has been hampered by
                  a tight hamstring that has caused him to miss two starts this spring. Miller
                  said today Kamieniecki most likely will start the season on the disabled list
                  because he hasn't pitched enough to develop the arm strength necessary to
                  work more than a few innings.

                  "You don't want to start a guy who is on a 40- or 50-pitch count, and
                  mess up your bullpen," Miller said.

                  Linton, 34, continued his impressive spring today, giving up only three hits
                  in five innings. But he finally gave up an earned run in the fourth inning
                  today -- breaking a string of 15 scoreless innings and raising his ERA from
                  0.00 to 0.53. And he was unhappy with the three walks he issued.

                  "I don't think I've pitched myself off the team," Linton said. "I felt my body
                  was out ahead of my arm, which is a sign of fatigue."

                  It was clear from the team's three errors and countless other defensive
                  lapses that Linton's teammates shared his fatigue. And it is understandable.
                  The team's chartered plane was kept on the ground in Havana for more
                  than two hours Sunday night for reasons that were never explained to
                  players. As a result, they didn't get here until midnight. Even after Miller
                  gave them this morning off, most players showed up bleary-eyed.

                  Other problems the team encountered in Cuba were a lack of edible food
                  and no running water in their stadium clubhouse.

                  "It was a time warp, a really different feeling, not knowing what to expect,
                  then seeing a parking lot full of '57 Chevys," shortstop Mike Bordick said.
                  "It's good to be back. To tell you the truth, we didn't eat very much. I think
                  I had some pork. . . . But all in all it was a good experience. The fans were
                  great, and it was a great game. It was not just baseball. It was deeper than

                  Second baseman Jesse Garcia, whose two stellar defensive plays on
                  consecutive grounders in the bottom of the 11th inning of the Cuba game
                  sealed the win for the Orioles, said he could sense the team's attitude
                  changing from nonchalance to burning intensity as the game progressed.

                  "When we got down there everyone was relaxed," Garcia said. "But when
                  the late innings came around, it really came down to USA versus Cuba.
                  I've never played in the World Series, but to me it felt like Game 7 of the
                  World Series."

                  After the game, Cuban President Fidel Castro, in his own way, made a
                  point of congratulating Garcia, a native of Texas, on the fine defensive

                  "He said, 'You should have let those balls go through,' " Garcia said. "I
                  said, 'Nah.' "

                  Orioles Notes: With Hairston on his way to Rochester, Garcia is a clear
                  favorite to begin the season on the major league roster, at least until starting
                  second baseman Delino DeShields (broken thumb) is ready to play.
                  DeShields fielded ground balls today before the game and will hit for the
                  first time Thursday, but he still is likely to miss the first week of the season.

                  Miller is also toying with the idea of carrying only 11 pitchers -- four
                  starters -- that first week because there are two off days. That would allow
                  him to carry an extra position player until the schedule forces him to add a
                  fifth starter, likely on April 11. . . .

                  The Baseball Hall of Fame and the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore
                  received some historic memorabilia from Sunday's game. The Hall
                  received the jersey of Scott Erickson (the Orioles' starting pitcher), the bat
                  of B.J. Surhoff (Orioles' first hit), the cap of Mike Fetters (winning pitcher)
                  and a copy of the Orioles' lineup card. The Ruth Museum received the
                  bats of Charles Johnson (Orioles' first homer) and Harold Baines
                  (game-winning hit), the batting glove of Surhoff and a copy of the Orioles'

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