- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — With his team’s exhibition opener only a few days away, Baltimore Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli intends to use all of his regulars in the first intrasquad game today.

Mazzilli said yesterday his projected starters will be divided among the two teams, which will be managed by first base coach Rick Dempsey and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks. The game is expected to last three innings.

“It’s just to give the guys some at-bats, give the young guys a feel for different surroundings, not having the cage, and everything being wide open,” said Mazzilli, whose club begins its exhibition schedule Thursday against the World Series champion Florida Marlins in Fort Lauderdale.

“We’ll work on some of our plays that we’ve put in, see if that comes up in the game. Just get in a game situation,” Mazzilli said. “No matter what you do in practice and how you go about it, it’s a little different once you get that competitiveness.”

The Orioles also will play an intrasquad game tomorrow that could be extended to four innings.

Second baseman Brian Roberts remains unavailable because of back spasms. Roberts missed his third straight workout yesterday and might not play until the weekend.

“When he says he’s 100 percent, we’ll keep him out another day,” Mazzilli said. “I know how guys are. I was like that, too. You think you’re ready, and the next thing you know, you’re set back another week.”

The Orioles have summoned pitchers Richard Stahl and Jeff Montani from their minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla., to provide additional depth for the two intrasquad games. Stahl was the 18th overall selection in the 1999 draft, but shoulder and back injuries have derailed his career. Montani finished third in the Class A South Atlantic League last season with 23 saves.

“I don’t know how long they’ll be here,” Mazzilli said. “You always want to have a backup. I don’t want to be short. You never know what could happen.”

Meanwhile, the Orioles announced the signing of seven more players to 2004 contracts: Roberts, pitchers John Parrish, John Stephens, Denny Bautista and Eddy Rodriguez, infielder Jose Morban and outfielder Larry Bigbie.

Six players on the 40-man roster remain unsigned, but the team expects to reach agreements with them today.

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