FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 13 -- Before reassigning Tony Saunders to their minor league camp Sunday, the Baltimore Orioles rewarded the pitcher with an inning in the team's 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Saunders allowed two runs, but had mostly positive things to say about his first outing in a professional game since Aug. 24, 2000.
"I know it was one little insignificant inning in the game, but it was good," said Saunders, who had been forced to retire in 2000 when he broke his arm while pitching. "I know I can do this now because of the way I felt out there. You never really fully know until you go out there and let it go."
Orioles to Watch: Sammy Sosa, pictured, is a new face in Baltimore, and he's one of several key players this season.
Graphic: Projected Starters
Graphic: Fort Lauderdale Stadium
Saunders said he felt no pain, but he did have trouble locating some of his pitches.
"It's been a long time, but it was good," Saunders said. "The weird thing about it is that I thought I'd be more nervous. I made it more of an issue last time. This time, I'm just going to go out and play."
The pitcher said he never expected to make the big league team in spring training camp and hoped a trip to the minors would help correct his inconsistency.
"That's why I want to start out in the minor leagues and [why] I have to start out in the minor leagues," Saunders said. "I've got to get all that stuff done out there."
Sosa Slams One
Sammy Sosa had two hits, including a solo home run in the second inning against Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes. Sosa improved his spring training average to .250.
"I know I'm going to hit," Sosa said. "I'm not worried about that. The work I do every day is paying off. I'm just trying to get in shape." . . .
Catcher Javy Lopez was a late scratch from Sunday's game with a bruised right ring finger. X-rays on the finger were negative. He is considered day-to-day. . . .
Melvin Mora left Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms. . . . In a split-squad game in Viera, Fla., Rick Bauer threw four scoreless innings in an 11-4 loss to the Washington Nationals. Bauer is an outside candidate for the team's fifth spot in the rotation. . . . Larry Bigbie had a two-run home run and Luis Matos added two singles in the loss. Jay Gibbons missed the game with flu-like symptoms.