McLemore defensive on glove excellence Veteran looks to shed 'one-dimensional' tag Rochester notes


ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Rochester Red Wings second baseman Mark McLemore made a stunning debut Saturday with two plays worthy of anyone's highlight film.

"You start questioning if you've ever seen plays like that,Rochester manager Greg Biagini said.

With two out, runners in scoring position, a run already in and thRed Wings protecting a 3-2 lead against the Syracuse Chiefs, McLemore dived to his backhand to stop a ball nearly at the second-base bag. He scrambled to his knees and threw out the runner. An inning earlier, he had ranged behind the bag and thrown out a runner from the shortstop side.

The Baltimore Orioles had signed free agent McLemore, 26, oFriday, two weeks after the Houston Astros had released him. He replaced Craig Worthington, who went on the disabled list.

VTC McLemore, named the best defensive prospect in two minoleagues, grudgingly acknowledged to having a reputation as a defensive player. "I don't like to be considered one-dimensional," he said. Injuries this year and last have limited him to 236 at-bats. He had 175 last year with five teams, three in the minors.

"Right now I'm trying to get back in the groove with my batshow the other part of my game," said McLemore, 5-for-13 with a double in three games with Class AAA Rochester.

* Luis Mercedes hit an inside-the-park home run Monday in seven-run third inning in Syracuse. Chiefs center fielder Turner Ward tried for a diving, backhand catch of a sinking line drive. The ball bounced in front of him and headed for MacArthur Stadium's center-field wall, 434 feet from the plate.

Scott Meadows hit a homer out of the park during the inninggiving the Red Wings their second two-homer inning of the season. All seven runs came before an out. The Red Wings had scored eight runs after two were out June 23 against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

* Biagini returned to the third-base coach's box, sending coacMike Young back to first, after the Red Wings had two runners picked off first in successive innings with a player coaching there during a game in Pawtucket, R.I.

Biagini said the timing was just a coincidence. "I had talked tMike and said at some time I would go back to the box. At that point, he said, 'Let's do it now.' "

Biagini had spent more than a month managing from the dugouand talking to hitters before and after their at-bats. "We got accomplished what we wanted to with me in the dugout. Now it's time to see what the players can do on their own."

They have had three players picked off since the switch.

* Two days before his promotion to the Orioles, Chito Martinez was named Topps/International League Player of the Month for June. He hit .345 with nine homers and 23 RBI in the month.

* MISCELLANEOUS: The Red Wings went into the All-Star break with a 4-game winning streak, equaling their season's best, and 6 games over .500, also tying their best mark. . . . Mike Mussina skipped his scheduled start Monday to give him extra days of rest. The Red Wings are bringing Mussina back slowly from an early May muscle injury near his right shoulder. . . . C Jeff Tackett replaced Martinez as Rochester's representative to the Triple-A All-Star Game last night in Louisville, Ky. Biagini served as a coach. . . . OF Benny Distefano has written to Baseball America, seeking a correction to a story in the July 10 issue about his altercation with Nashville manager Pete Mackanin. Distefano cited several inaccuracies, including that he was hit by a pitch to spark the incident and a reference to him as a Golden Gloves boxer.

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