SARASOTA, Fla. -- What started as a promising career ended with a one-line note on the Orioles' information sheet yesterday.
Pete Stanicek, who once ranked ahead of Bill Ripken at second (( base and later was labeled the leftfielder of the future, has been released. A series of nagging injuries and minuscule batting averages finally caught up with the 27-year-old switch-hitter.
After signing as a ninth-round draft pick out of Stanford in 1985, Stanicek made a quick ascension through the Orioles' system. He hit .317 at Single A Hagerstown in 1986, then moved rapidly through the organization, arriving in Baltimore the following year and hitting .274 in 30 games.
Stanicek was penciled in as the leftfielder and leadoff hitter when he went to spring training in 1988, but started the season on the disabled list. Hampered by leg and back injuries, he was never able to fulfill his potential and spent most of the last two years in Double A at Hagerstown.
"We went with him as long as we felt we could," said director of player personnel Doug Melvin. "We didn't see the explosiveness that Pete had shown in the past.
"It's a shame to see a player with his physical skills go back as fast as he did. Five years ago [when Stanicek stole 77 bases at Hagerstown] he was an untouchable, a guy we thought was a can't-miss prospect. But we just couldn't wait any longer."
* LOOKING AHEAD: Jeff Ballard was scheduled to face the Dodgers today. In tomorrow's split-squad games against the Expos, Ben McDonald is slated to go at least six innings in one game while Bob Milacki starts the other. Roy Smith and Mike Flanagan will have backup duty.
The Orioles have three games against the Yankees over the weekend. They play Friday night in Fort Lauderdale, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium.
* THIS 'N THAT: Tim Hulett strengthened his case for a roster spot significantly yesterday. Playing shortstop in place of Cal Ripken, Hulett had three hits, including his second home run of the spring, a two-run blast in the fourth inning of the 9-9 tie with Philadelphia.
On the day he was optioned to Rochester, Anthony Telford couldn't locate home plate. The righthander, who spent the last 47 days of the 1990 season with the Orioles, walked three and gave up a hit in only one-third of an inning and was charged with four earned runs.
Jeff Tackett also played yesterday after being informed he would report to Rochester. He hit a booming double, just missing a home run, in a three-run eighth inning that tied the score -- after the Phillies had scored six times to overcome a 6-3 Orioles' lead.
Guillermo Hernandez, who used to be known as Willie during his heyday with the Tigers, gave up the three runs. Hernandez was a non-roster invitee to the Phillies' camp and his comeback appears about over.
Neither Ripken nor Glenn Davis dressed for yesterday's game, breaking a string of three straight games when the Orioles had all of their big guns in the lineup.
The Orioles depart for Florida's east coast in two groups today -- one will face the Dodgers at Vero Beach, the other will hold a nTC final workout at the Twin Lakes Park complex and then proceed directly to the club's hotel headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.