They are an interesting matchup, the blustery little manager from the bushes and the cocky kid with the vicious curve ball.
Ken Dixon wears white Don Johnson suits and gold chains. Earl Weaver leans toward golf shirts and conservative slacks. Dixon speaks the voice of the '80s Yuppie, Weaver the same language that, probably, Ty Cobb used.
So as the Baltimore Orioles were on their way to a 10-inning, 7-6 victory over the New York Mets tonight at Miami Stadium, their conversations were interesting and important.
Dixon was hit hard for a second straight start, allowing seven hits and four runs in six innings. This spring, he has an 8.10 ERA, and in his last two appearances, he has given up 14 hits and 10 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
"I gave up way too many hits on two-strike pitches, and that really gets to Earl," Dixon said. "He came to the mound and talked to me about finishing guys off once I had two strikes on them. I know what he means. He doesn't want to play games. He wants to put that slider on the outside corner and be done with it. It's not always that easy."
Did they argue?
"No," Dixon said, "I don't argue with people I shouldn't argue with. I might not agree, but that's my right. Earl has had a lot of 20-game winners, and he has been successful at handling pitchers. I'm listening."
It's important because the Orioles are counting on Dixon, 25, to be their fifth starter this year. He is coming off a decent rookie season -- 8-4 with a 3.67 ERA and three complete games -- and remains one of the few Orioles pitchers with the ability to throw a pitch past hitters.
But he keeps getting hit. After tonight's game, Orioles pitchers have allowed 147 hits in 122 innings, and Dixon hasn't made the ratio better.
"I haven't done as well as I'd have liked," Dixon said. "But I felt great, and that's the most important thing down here. It is still spring training, and after I didn't get out of the first inning Monday, I'm working on a lot of things at once . . .
"I'm encouraged because I have a good change-up now, and I didn't have that last year. I know that pitching is a job where you're going to have great days and mediocre days. The thing you have to do is minimize the bad days, and when you have one, you still have to take the pitches you have to the mound."
The Orioles sent 13 players to their minor league camp, leaving 32 in the major league camp. Sent down were outfielder Ken Gerhart, first baseman Jim Traber, infielders Tom O'Malley and Kelly Paris, catchers Carl Nichols and Steve Padia and pitchers Jeff Ballard, Eric Bell, Luis DeLeon, John Habyan, Phil Huffman, Mark Leiter and Mike Skinner.