- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Given the way the rest of his Baltimore Orioles teammates have pitched, it would be nit-picking to call into question Josh Towers' performance this spring.
Then again, no one on the Orioles pitching staff is generally more precise than Towers, leaving him justifiably disconcerted with his 4.50 spring ERA and 27 hits allowed in 20 innings.
"I'm leaving the ball up, that's probably the biggest thing," said Towers, who allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings yesterday in the Orioles' 10-5 win over the Montreal Expos. "It's not even that it's really up that high. It's two or three inches. That's where it is right up there in the zone."
Two or three inches off may not sound like much for most major-league pitchers, but for someone who relies on pinpoint control as much as Towers does, two inches can mean the difference between a popout and a home run.
"Josh is not a power pitcher," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He's a finesse-command-control guy, and those guys are going to get hit more often than the guys who go out there and power the ball. That's why if he hits his spots, he's gold. And if he doesn't, it's a good pitch to hit."
Towers served up two particularly good pitches to hit yesterday, resulting in a first-inning homer by Jose Vidro and a sixth-inning homer by Henry Gonzalez both to straightaway center field.
Even so, he managed to improve his record to 3-0 after the Orioles pounded Expos starter Masato Yoshii all over the park for eight runs and 10 hits in two innings. Baltimore's five starting pitchers have combined to go 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA in spring training, with one more outing apiece before Opening Day.
"I've got one more start, but I'm not concerned about it at all," Towers said. "When it comes time for the season to start, I should have things polished up."
Bauer back up
One week after being sent down to the Orioles' minor league camp, right-hander Rick Bauer was recalled yesterday.
Baltimore brought the 25-year-old back as insurance in case No.5 starter Calvin Maduro, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, is not ready to make his first scheduled appearance April7.
"I didn't expect to be back anytime soon, but it's nice," said Bauer, who should still start the year at Class AAA Rochester. "I'm just curious what my role is going to be."
Hargrove said Bauer would only make the 25-man roster if he is needed in place of Maduro, not as a long reliever.
As for Maduro's status, the right-hander threw on the side Monday and reported no pain. He's eligible to come off the DL on April6.
"I woke up today and it felt good," he said. "I just can't start going crazy. I have to take it easy. I'll be ready for sure."
Segui returns
David Segui played for the first time yesterday since straining his Achilles' tendon on March14. Serving only as designated hitter, Segui went 2-for-3 and scored two runs one of them all the way from first base on a triple by Jeff Conine.
"David looked fine," Hargrove said. "He wanted to continue [beyond the fifth inning], but I said let's not push it."
Outfielder Chris Singleton, out with a similar injury, may return this weekend.
Extra bases
The Orioles officially break camp today they start the slow trek north, playing tonight and tomorrow in Viera, Fla., against the Florida Marlins, Friday evening at the Atlanta Braves and Saturday afternoon against the Cincinnati Reds in Louisville, Ky. …
Melvin Mora hit his fifth homer in six games yesterday the unlikely power hitter has a .966 slugging percentage this spring. Marty Cordova crushed a grand slam in the first inning for his first homer as an Oriole. …
Baltimore was 12-1-1 at Fort Lauderdale Stadium this spring.


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