- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. It is easy to walk into the Baltimore Orioles clubhouse and overlook Calvin Maduro.
This is a clubhouse filled with young players, many of them highly touted prospects who have been hyped as the future of the franchise. Sprinkled here and there are a handful of recognizable veterans, the core of the team.
Maduro? He falls somewhere in the middle. He's not a proven big leaguer by any means, but he's certainly not to be lumped among his less experienced teammates.
The 27-year-old right-hander has spent parts of four seasons (including much of 2001) on major league rosters, though his career pitching totals 8-14 record, 5.84 ERA are nothing to write home about. He appeared in 22 games for Baltimore last year, 12 of those as a starter down the stretch when the Orioles' rotation was decimated by injuries.
"I look at it this way: The team needed somebody to fill in, and I came in at the right time," Maduro said.
He comes into spring training as the most experienced pitcher among the group of youngsters battling for the rotation's final spot, prompting manager Mike Hargrove to say Maduro "has a leg up on everyone" for the assignment. But he cannot match up physically with 22-year-old Sean Douglass or 25-year-old Rick Bauer, the pair of 6-foot-6 power pitchers.
What Maduro does have, though, is the support of his manager and pitching coach, who have seen this unassuming Aruban pitcher come through nearly every time he's been asked.
"[Pitching coach Mark] Wiley gave me a lot of confidence last year. He told me that I could pitch at this level," Maduro said. "And [Hargrove] was a big help. If I had a bad outing, I'd just go up to him and ask what I did wrong and he'd tell me exactly what. Then I'd go out and work on it and the next time out, I'd do good. It's good to know you've got your manager behind you, that he'll support you in anything."
Still, you get the feeling that given the choice, the Orioles would prefer to see one of the young arms Douglass or Bauer or John Stephens or Erik Bedard step up and earn the No.5 spot. And if none of them are ready come April1, well, they can always turn back to Maduro the safety valve, the last resort, PlanB.
Maduro isn't complaining. He knows the situation. He also knows he has a chance to prove he deserves the job not by default but on his own merits.
"I don't want anything easy," he said. "I don't want the job handed to me. I want to work for it. I probably proved to them last year that I was good in the rotation. But I still have to prove to them this year that I can do it."
Notes While most of his teammates headed to Fort Myers yesterday to face the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore infielder Brian Roberts remained at the team's Fort Lauderdale complex receiving treatment on his injured right elbow. An MRI taken Monday revealed a recurrence of bone chips, similar to the problem that required arthroscopic surgery two years ago.
No decision on another surgical procedure has been made.
"We're just trying to treat it right now and then decide what to do," said Roberts, who played 75 games with the Orioles last year but is likely to return to Class AAA this season.
Roberts said the worst-case scenario surgery would probably keep him out four to six weeks, comparable to what he went through in 2000.
"But we're trying to play it precautionary right now," he said, "go the rehab route and see if I can play through it." …
Joe Mays pitched three scoreless innings as the Twins beat the Orioles 4-2. Brook Fordyce, trying to rebound from a poor season, hit a two-run homer. Marty Cordova, a former Twin who signed a $9.1million, three-year contract with the Orioles this winter, went 2-for-3.


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