Shortstops in the Baltimore Orioles system hit the glass ceiling when they reach the Rochester Red Wings. When they look up from Class AAA, they see Cal Ripken where they want to be.
Ricky Gutierrez will at least take advantage of the view.
"Every time I have a chance to watch him, I do," the 21-year-old said. "I watch him as a fan and as a shortstop. I watch him to learn some things."
Gutierrez is unconcerned with Ripken being a formidable obstacle.
4 "One day, hopefully, I'll have my turn to play."
Said Red Wings manager Greg Biagini, "Ricky has a major-league future." Defensively, the shortstop has range and arm strength, the manager said. Offensively, he is proving to be a willing student who applies his lessons. After batting .236 with the Class AA Hagerstown Suns, the right-handed hitter was batting .295 after a seven-game streak raised his average 53 points.
"A lot of people know me more for defense than hitting," saiGutierrez, drafted in the supplemental first round in 1988 as a consolation for the Orioles being unable to sign their top pick the previous year. "As I grow, my bat will get stronger."
* Jeff Robinson told Biagini that he would prefer to pitch in relief, and after conferring with Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, the manager took Robinson out of the rotation and he will used as a short reliever.
"He likes knowing he can be in the game every day," Biaginsaid. "Roland said if he wants to relieve, maybe it will be fresh start for him. Let's give him the ball."
Robinson blew a save chance Monday night. The Red Wings harallied from a 6-0 deficit after three innings behind Paul Kilgus to take an 8-6 lead after seven. Robinson started the eighth. He gave up singles to the first two batters and a first-pitch home run to third batter to lose, 9-8, to the Richmond Braves.
Robinson's first three appearances were in relief. He allowed onunearned run in nine innings and earned a save. In his only start, he allowed seven runs (six earned) in 3 2/3 innings.
Robinson had relieved in 14 games in his career before joininthe Red Wings. Biagini said he doesn't think lack of bullpen experience would be a problem. "If someone has done a lot of throwing, even if he's a starter, and his arm is resilient, I don't foresee that as a problem."
Jeff Ballard pitched a complete-game, 9-2 victory over Richmonon Tuesday, his 28th birthday, and lowered his ERA from 8.18 to 5.40. Ballard gave up nine hits, (he had allowed 22 in his previous 11 innings), one walk and four strikeouts. "I made good pitches," he said. "I had command of all my pitches. I threw relaxed. It was refreshing to be out there and have fun."
* MISCELLANEOUS: Right-hander Jose Mesa threw a complete-game, 3-0 victory over Richmond on Saturday, waiting out a 43-minute rain delay to pitch the ninth. He struck out nine without walking anyone. . . . Anthony Telford, out of the bullpen because of the season-ending elbow problems of Israel Sanchez, won his 11th game Sunday, taking over the league lead. . . . Catcher Jeff Tackett has gone 2-for-24 to drop his average from .265 to .251, but during that stretch he has drawn 6 walks and scored 3 runs. . . . OF Scott Meadows has hit in 8 of games since coming off the disabled list. . . . OF Jack Voigt, going 45 games before hitting his first double, has hit 3 in the past 3 games. . . . Mike Mussina's 122 innings will qualify him for the IL ERA title. Mussina, at 2.87, in second behind Armando Reynoso, who also is in the major leagues, with the Atlanta Braves.
Former Oriole Oswald Peraza was sharp in his first start for the Suns since returning from Rochester.
He allowed three unearned runs and five hits in 7 1/3 inning against the Canton-Akron Indians, striking out seven and walking one.
That followed three fairly effective relief stints for the Sun covering 12 1/3 innings.
Peraza, 28, was 5-7 for the 1988 Orioles and was the only pitche on the staff to win three straight starts. He still is trying to rebound from arm problems.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Glenn Davis was the sixth player sent to Hagerstown for rehabilitation by the Orioles. All the others still are with the team, except Steve Finley, who was traded to the Houston Astros for Davis. . . . Ken Shamburg returned from Rochester with a 4-for-4 game in his second appearance for the Suns. "I went up there and pressed," he said. . . . Doug Robbins' 10-game hitting streak was stopped Monday night. He is fourth in the Eastern League with a .314 average. . . . Only 30 home runs have been hit at Municipal Stadium this season, 16 by the Suns, in 54 games. . . . The league playoffs start Sept. 3, with the first-place winner playing host to the fourth-place team and No. 2 at home against No. 3 in best-of-five series. As it stands now, the Suns would visit Albany, a team they have dominated in the regular season, 11-6. . . . The opposition has made 203 errors to Hagerstown's 131.
The Keys are in a neck-and-neck battle with the Durham Bulls to lead Class A baseball in attendance again.
On their last six-game homestand, the Keys averaged more tha 6,000 fans a game, with a Grove Stadium record of 8,751 Saturday night leading the way.
That game featured the double promotion of a baseball car show and old-timers game.
After 58 dates, Frederick has draw 258,599 or an average of 4,459. Durham has less total attendance (251,357) but has played 54 dates and thus has a higher average (4,655).
Last year, the Keys had the higher average, Durham the highest total attendance.
* MISCELLANEOUS: First baseman Brent Miller has battered the ball since his promotion from Kane County (Ill.). Miller has a .318 batting average, .636 slugging percentage and 21 RBI in 16 games. He is the third Key to have a two-home run game (vs. Peninsula). . . . First draft choice Mark Smith is warming up after a slow start. He has 18 RBI in 18 games. . . . Free agent George Baker, signed out of the Washington Industrial League, batted .316 in his first eight games. . . . The Keys have added pitcher Dave Paveloff from Kane County to replace disabled Greg Hays, who suffered a serious leg injury in a brawl against Salem. . . . Erik Schullstrom struck out a franchise-record 8 straight against Peninsula. . . . The Keys have 7 games left against Northern Division leader Lynchburg as they try to come from behind to win the second-half title.