Spring Training Notes for 3/11

Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro are among seven active and former players subpoenaed to testify in front of the House on steroids, and the union and owners are standing united to have the players ignore the calls to testify, though Don Fehr and Rob Manfred will be there.

(Rep. Waxman chief of staff Phillip) Schiliro said players didn't seem to be taking the hearing seriously, using as an example Palmeiro's statement that he might not attend because the March 17 hearing falls on his wife's birthday.

"I've worked on hearings for 20 years, and we've never had a witness say, 'It's my wife's birthday,'" Schiliro said.

Palmeiro, interviewed at spring training in Florida, said he felt victimized: "I don't know what my link is. I shouldn't have been in the book in the first place." Palmeiro has denied taking steroids.

Sosa declined to comment.

Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, told CNN that the slugger had "respectfully" declined the committee's invitation but will now have to "take a second look and make the right choice."

For some reason, I find Palmeiro's excuse to be tremendously funny, as well as Schiliro's response to it.

Is there anything here with our guys? I really have some serious doubts about Palmeiro. His power developed pretty naturally and his body didn't change a ton over his quite long career. His swing is also one of the prettiest in memory. Sosa is the more worrisome of the two, but what's really the worst that will happen at this particular point in time? Giambi has admitted to using and he's playing.

I think it'd be too bad to have either Sosa or Palmeiro reveal steroid use, just in terms of how we see the two of them, but being utterly realistic it probably wouldn't change our team much, and that is the bottom line as far as management is concerned. And there's really the chance that neither of them have anything to reveal, no wrongdoings to uncover. Both deserve the benefit of the doubt, at least because of just who the accuser is.

Sidney Ponson has his work visa, and will start Saturday against the Dodgers. This is good news. Ponson pitched well down the stretch, and if anything, is a durable and reliable arm in a still-cloudy rotation. You may not be the biggest Ponson supporter in the world (and believe me, I'm not at this point), but his potential success is a key to the rotation for 2005.

There are so many question marks to fill out past Lopez and Ponson. None of our guys are sure bets to even make the rotation past those two, and stability will be a key to them becoming competitive in the next couple of seasons.

Orioles beat the Mets 8-2 yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, with a six-run fourth inning doing the majority of the damage. Carlos Beltran lost two balls in the sun in center, and David Newhan missed one as well. That's some brutal sun.

The O's beat up Steve Trachsel for five runs on four hits in 3 1/3 IP, and Bruce Chen got the win for three shutout innings of relief after a shaky start from Rodrigo Lopez. Jay Gibbons homered after starting in place of B.J. Surhoff (scratched due to a strained right groin). We're now 4-3 for the spring, and the next game is today at 1:05 in Jupiter against the Marlins.

Peter Angelos is still driving a hard bargain with Bud Selig over the Nationals moving in on "his" territory, which really means nothing since chances are it's going to get settled relatively soon. Either way, the Nats are going to be playing at RFK in a month whether Angelos still hates it or not, but the good news for Peter is I'd bet he's going to get the deal he wants from Selig, and the unfortunately named Peter Schmuck from the Sun agrees.

Make sure to check out Minor League Ball on Sunday to see John Sickels' list of the top 20 Orioles prospects. I'm very interested to see what John has to say about our farm system, though I don't expect the kindest of words.

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