Lee Lacy had looked bad in three straight at bats, grounding out weakly, popping up to the catcher and striking out.
In the ninth inning, though, he delivered a home run that lifted the Baltimore Orioles past the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, today.
Another day at the office?
"I watch him swing, and I think he must be hitting .190," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "But every time I look at the stats, he's hitting .290 or .300."
A day earlier, Lacy had advised Weaver to "kick me in the butt" because he wasn't hitting, then promised, "I'm going to get so many hits for you this year."
Lacy appeared to need a good kicking after his three times up against rookie Les Straker today. But with the score 2-2, he drove a pitch from Ramon Romero off the scoreboard in left-center field. It was Lacy's second homer of the spring and brought the Orioles' eighth victory in their last 10 games.
"I don't care about looking bad," Lacy said. "I know what I can do. I just want to get out of spring training healthy. I was ready to play a long time ago, and it's time to get started."
The Orioles' spring record improved to 14-14, with a game remaining against the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday before Baltimore opens the season Monday at Memorial Stadium against Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the Orioles got more good work from their pitching staff. Starter Mike Boddicker allowed the Twins a run and five hits in six innings. At minor league camp in Miami, left-hander Scott McGregor pitched six shutout innings against the Richmond Braves.
The Orioles got 13 hits off five Twins pitchers, led by shortstop Cal Ripken's four for four. Ripken is finishing the preseason on a tear, having hit in nine straight games at a 17-for-35 (.486) clip.
John Shelby also is hot. His three hits made him 10 for 16 (.625) the last five games. Shelby has impressed Weaver enough that he might get an opening day start against the Indians' Ken Schrom.
"His average had gotten low enough that I was going to send him down for some extra hitting," Weaver said, "but batting coach Terry Crowley said he was starting to hit the hell out of the ball. I guess so."
The 1985 Orioles hit 22 home runs in 28 spring games, then had a club-record 214 during the season. This spring, Baltimore has hit 28 in 28 games . . . Third baseman Floyd Rayford will test his injured left thumb today. The club is leaning toward putting him on the disabled list, but Rayford said, "No way. I'll be ready. I'll be healed by tomorrow. I'm the man of steel."