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'Dewey' set for monster return to Fenway Park


Dwight Evans has one regret about this weekend's series between the Orioles and Red Sox at Fenway Park.

No, he's not going to say he's angry with Boston management for snubbing him after 18 productive years. Nor does he bemoan the fate that has kept him from participating with a team that has a chance to win the world championship he says the New England fans deserve.

Very few players in the history of baseball have ever played as long in one city as Evans did in Boston, and then returned wearing a gray uniform. This is going to be a different -- and probably emotional -- experience that Evans has been trying to ignore.

So far he's been successful. But when he steps into the batter's box or runs into rightfield, whichever comes first, Evans will experience a Fenway feeling unlike any he's ever had before.

"I don't know what it's going to be like, I really can't tell you," Evans, 39, said on the eve of his return. "But the one thing I don't want to do is get sidetracked.

"The only thing I regret is that we're not in first or second place so the series would mean a lot more," said Evans. "That's the toughest part, that we haven't played better. We're in the cellar and they're in first. But maybe we're starting to come together now and then . . . who knows?"

Evans knows the Orioles have a long, long road to travel before contention can become a legitimate word. He also knows, however, that the Orioles are on as good a roll as they have been all year. Two straight wins for only the third time and a series victory for just the second time says a lot about what this season has been like so far.

Last night's 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at least lets the Orioles go into the home of the league leaders with a feeling of competitiveness. And it gives Evans a chance to go home with some hope.

"I don't know what to expect," said Evans. "I don't know what the reaction will be."

He knows, he just won't admit it. When a player spends 18 years in Fenway Park he invariably endures tough times, but he leaves as a hero.

"I love the New England fans," said Evans. "They can be tough, but they are very supportive. They were tough on me at first because they wanted more.

"And they deserve more -- they deserve a world championship. I just wish I could have been a part of one for them. We came close [1975 and 1986], but we couldn't give it to them."

Now the Red Sox are making championship noises again and Evans, given up on as a broken-down veteran, is coming home to make it as difficult as he possibly can. There are a lot of friends in the home clubhouse, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for him to walk past that door.

He may, in fact, have to go in just to get somebody to give him directions. "I'm looking forward to finding out where the visiting clubhouse is," said Evans. "I've never been in there."

One thing, however, will be the same despite the difference in uniforms -- what takes place on the field. "I have a lot of friends in that clubhouse," said Evans. "But they're all competitors, and I'm dTC a competitor. That's what I enjoy most about the game -- the competition between the pitcher and the hitter. And when the game starts I'll be trying to beat them and they'll be trying to beat us."

The return to Boston, his first since leaving for spring training in mid-February, means a lot more that just Fenway Park to Evans. Now, he has to go on the road to go home.

"I'm looking forward to seeing my family and my home," he said. "I was fortunate enough to play and live in the same place for a long time. Not that I'm going to have a lot of time this weekend, but I'm looking forward to that.

"When I get back there I'll probably just stand around and look at my home for about a half-hour."

The time at home figures to be about the only relaxing moments Evans will spend this weekend. He can't be expected to know what it will be like, but deep down he knows his return to Fenway is going to be something special.

The fact that he's going back as a reliable rightfielder who is hitting a solid .272 will add to the drama.

"What hurts is that we've been playing the way we have," said Evans. "That takes something away from it."

But not much. At least not in the eyes of the Fenway fanatics.

Evans is going home, road uniform or not, and it promises to be special.

If he didn't realize it before, Dwight Evans will know the minute he steps onto the field and that familiar chant starts rolling around Fenway Park.

"Dewey . . . Dewey . . . Dewey."

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