- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

From combined dispatches
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Josh Towers' 2001 rookie season with the Baltimore Orioles can be summarized by these statistics:
6-2 record through June.
2-8 in July, August and September.
0-1 against dugout telephones.
Pitching without benefit of a 90-mph fastball, Towers baffled American League hitters after being called up from Class AAA Rochester on May25 to replace injured Pat Hentgen in the starting rotation.
After appearing in four games as a reliever with Baltimore earlier in the month, Towers flourished as a starter. The right-hander went 5-1 with a 1.49 ERA in June to earn AL rookie of the month honors.
But Towers was 0-4 with a 6.47 ERA in July and yielded at least five runs in seven of his last 12 starts. His season abruptly ended on Sept.20, when he broke the ring finger on his right hand by slamming a dugout phone at SkyDome after an ineffective performance.
"It's kind of funny now," he said. "It wasn't funny then."
The good start, the lousy finish and even his misadventure with the phone provided Towers an education he hopes will serve him well when he opens the 2002 season as the Orioles' No.4 starter.
"My confidence has always been high, but last season just made it even higher. It was good in a lot of ways," said Towers, who owns a 1.00 ERA in three outings this spring. "It was good that I had the extreme success, and it was good that I had the really bad failures, and it was good that I got hurt.
"Now I know what to expect when I'm doing well. Now I know what to expect when things aren't going my way. Now I know what to expect when I start getting a little frustrated."
The source of his frustration was his sudden ineffectiveness. One theory was that AL batters caught on to his formula for success, which was based upon throwing a first-pitch strike and then hitting the corners of the plate.
It worked early, but batters soon began swinging early in the count with great success. Towers' ERA swelled from 2.17 to 4.49 and he gave up 15 homers over his last 11 starts after giving up only five in his first nine starts.
"I think it was a case of the hitters adjusting to what he's doing," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "But it was also him making bad pitches at bad times. It was a combination of things."

Orioles top Expos
Rick Bauer allowed four hits over five innings in his first start of the spring, and the Orioles defeated the Montreal Expos 4-1.
Bauer, who had made one relief appearance, gave up one run, struck out one and walked none.
Montreal starter Masato Yoshii allowed one run and three hits in four innings, struck out two and walked none.


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