Shields hopes consistent bat, versatile glove will be his 0) ticket
* ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Like most graduates of the University of Notre Dame, Tommy Shields believes he can handle any job given him.
Shields has supported his belief with aggressive play at the infield positions for the Red Wings and solid performances at the plate.
Shields, 26, obtained this spring from the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization for a player to be named, is batting .284 with 89 hits, 38 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .355.
"He's had a solid year," said Red Wings manager Greg Biagini. "He's been consistent. He's not had many games in a row when he hasn't hit. He would be an asset as a utility player for any major-league team."
Although Biagini said Shields can play any position, Shields did have some rough games early in the season. He has a team-high 16 errors.
"I have to learn how to play all the infield positions," Shields said. "I don't have the power at the plate to play third base in the big leagues. I have to be concerned with hitting for average and being able to play anywhere a team needs me."
Shields, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in government and economics, signed with the Pirates in 1986. He missed the 1987 season with a shoulder injury. He's had at least 100 hits in three of four full seasons.
He came to the Pirates as a shortstop but was switched to third base.
"I'll play any position. I don't think anyone cares how they get to the big leagues," Shields said. "Getting there is a matter of luck and good play. I know people out of the game who have more talent than some of those in the big leagues."
Shields plans to play at least a few more years. But if he doesn't make it to the major leagues, he said he would go to graduate school for a degree to become an administrator of athletic programs.
Pitcher Jose Mesa collected nine strikeouts in seven innings in a 3-0 defeat of the Toledo Mud Hens last week. But he reverted to form last night in a 9-4 loss to Columbus, yielding five hits, six walks and six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. He had just one strikeout.
Benny DiStefano had hit safely and driven in at least one run in 10 of the last 12 games. He's raised his RBI total to 63.
Tyrone Kingwood has hit safely in 10 of the 12 games since being called up from Hagerstown. The 25-year-old outfielder, originally drafted by the Montreal Expos, has hit .315 (17-for-54) and stolen seven bases in eight attempts.
In rearranging the staff with assignments from Baltimore and returns from the disabled list, the Wings released outfielder Oddibe McDowell.
Last night's loss broke a seven-game Wings winning streak, the longest of the season.
@ * HAGERSTOWN -- Arthur Rhodes pitched back-to-back, complete-game 1-0 shutouts to raise his record to 7-1. After stopping London on seven hits, the Suns lefthander silenced Albany with a three-hitter, striking out 12.
Rhodes, who will next work Saturday in Harrisburg, hasn't lost since April 10, opening night. After spending more than three weeks on the disabled list, ending June 5, Rhodes wasn't credited with a decision in his next four starts.
Ed Yacopino hit two triples in a win over New Britain, marking the second time in July he had a pair in one game. He collected six RBIs in the 14-4 victory over New Britain.
With one game remaining in July, Yacopino was batting .435 for the month, with 24 runs, 25 RBIs and one home run.
The Suns failed to get an extra-base hit Sunday against New Britain, ending their string of games in which they had at least one at 48. Oddly, the previous time they were held without an extra-base hit, June 5, also was by New Britain.
Third baseman Tim Holland knocked in four runs in a doubleheader against Albany to take over the club lead with 63. He has had 30 in his last 36 games . . . Pitcher David Miller was 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 11 games when he was summoned by Triple A Rochester after the Orioles raided the Red Wings' staff . . . The Suns' 4-3 loss to New Britain last weekend was their first one-run defeat since June 27.
Doug Brown * FREDERICK -- Outfielder Jim Wawruck, the Orioles' fifth-round draft pick last month, has swung a hot bat since arriving from Sarasota of the Gulf Coast League July 26. In his first five games with the Keys, he went 8-for-17, with three stolen bases in as many attempts.
The Orioles' No. 1 choice, outfielder Mark Smith, is struggling at .143 after six games.
Normally a second baseman, Tony Beasley was switched to third base when Brad Tyler joined the club a month ago, although Beasley had never played that position in his pro career. Then, last week, Beasley played three games at shortstop in relief of Manny Alexander, who was ailing with gastritis.
Despite being shuttled around the infield, Beasley is hitting as well as he has all season. In his first six games after the Carolina League All-Star Game, he batted .429 to raise his average from .217 to .234.
For a short while, Doug Flowers was the Keys' only healthy catcher. Cesar Devares (leg) and Ed Horowitz (wrist) have been out and Troy Tallman missed two games with a bum elbow.
Outfielder Sergio Cairo, the league's No. 3 hitter (.309), missed .. six games with a shoulder problem . . . John O'Donoghue leads the league with 126 strikeouts (in 129 innings) and Kip Yaughn is third (118) . . . Since July 22, the Keys have endured a 20-inning
scoreless streak and another of 26.