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Ponson sharp in debut

Orioles played a Dodger split-squad today and tied 0-0 after ten innings. The bad news is we were shut down by Ryan Rupe and co., but the good news is Ponson threw four shutout innings and James Baldwin had a couple himself, making it eight innings without an earned run this spring for Baldwin.

Ponson showed some rust during his 56-pitch outing. After throwing 43 pitches in the first two innings, he needed only 13 -- six in the third and seven in the fourth -- to record 1-2-3 innings.

``Outstanding,'' Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. ``His pitches got high a little bit in the first inning, but he settled down.''

I don't like to go on soundbytes and things like that, but Ponson really does seem focused on recovering from his disastrous 2004.

``From this day on ... it's going to be all baseball,'' Ponson said. ``I'm thinking about throwing strikes, losing some games and winning a lot more.''

I am worried that if he faces David Wells at any point, the mound will need to be reinforced.

As for Baldwin, well, let's just go ahead and be serious there. Baldwin is 34 in June and was decent last season in Norfolk and Toledo, and bombed in two starts with the Mets. Never in his major league career has he posted an ERA below 4.42. Even his prime years were fluky. He's never been an impressive major league starter.

So as much as I think it's neat that Baldwin is having a nice spring, I hope it doesn't result in him winning a spot in the rotation. Playing in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, and playing at Camden, I'm afraid no good could come of James Baldwin. Sorry, James.

Ponson has also nominated Rodrigo Lopez for Opening Day starter:

"I am not going to speculate (on who the Opening Day starter will be). If you ask me what I think about that, I think Rodrigo. The bottom line is that he was the best pitcher last year. He deserves it. If they gave it to him, I would be happy."

Open Question: Since a healthy bit of the talk this spring has been about the fifth spot in the rotation (Riley, Baldwin, Chen, etc.), is there anyone in particular you're rooting for to lock it down?

The Orioles are throwing split squads out today, hosting the Cardinals in Fort Lauderdale and sending a gang over to Viera to face the Nationals.