Orioles minor-league notes

ROCHESTE, N.Y. — Starting over for Red Wings, newcomer Lewis starts fast

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Put an asterisk next to Richie Lewis' first four professional seasons. They don't count the same way 1991 does.


"I haven't been hurt at all this year," said Lewis, 25, acquired Saturday from the Montreal Expos organization for minor-league pitcher Chris Myers. Since being drafted in 1987, Lewis had spent part of each season on the disabled list because of an arm injury finally diagnosed as a cracked ulna.

"This is my first professional season, the way I look at it," the right-hander said.


Counting his Class AAA Rochester Red Wings debut Monday, he has pitched in 40 games this season. He was 6-5 with a 3.74 ERA with the Class AA Harrisburg Senators and 1-0 with a 3.58 ERA with the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians.

Lewis pitched seven innings to get a victory Monday against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, allowing one run on five hits. He walked five and struck out eight.

The Expos had made Lewis, who led the nation in strikeouts in 1987 at Florida State, their second pick, and 44th overall in the draft.

But like Myers, the Baltimore Orioles' No. 1 pick and seventh overall in '87, he had stagnated.

"I was in shock," Lewis said when he learned he had been traded. He was in uniform for Indianapolis when his manager told him the news. "They had just moved me up to Triple-A. I was hoping for a shot in September. I guess they gave up on me."

* MISCELLANEOUS: 1B/OF Benny Distefano extended his hitting streak to 16 games and his RBI streak to 7 games Tuesday night. Since coming back from a wrist injury Aug. 11, Distefano, 29, is 26-for-62 with 4 homers and 16 RBI. He raised his average from .233 to .261 and joined the league leaders in home runs (tied for third with 17) and RBI (second with 79). "I saved my career by showing people I can still play," Distefano said. "If I finish at .260, that's not too bad in this league, especially from where I was. I'm very proud of the way I came back." . . . OF Luis Mercedes had a 21-game hitting streak when he was suspended Monday for the rest of the season for throwing his batting helmet at an opponent. . . . C Jeff Tackett equaled his August production Saturday when he went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI. . . . Floyd Rayford, a former Red Wings and Orioles catcher/third baseman, went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI Tuesday night for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a 15-2 victory. Rayford, 34, a coach for 2 years, was activated Aug. 16 to fill a roster spot and stayed active when Class AAA rosters expanded. He played because of injuries to 3 players. With Arthur Rhodes promoted to the Orioles, Pat Leinen has emerged as the Class AA Suns' premier left-hander.

The control artist is on a tear with seven straight victories, a span in which he has a 2.15 ERA. The Suns have outscored the opposition, 47-19, in those games.

* MISCELLANEOUS: 2B Rodney Lofton has been named the club's MVP by a local publishing company. The unsung heroes were OF Ed Yacopino and, among pitchers, Todd Stephan. . . . As the Suns drive toward a second-place finish, their catchers are hot. Mike Lehman has hit .388 this month and Doug Robbins .404 despite a bruised wrist. If they finish ahead of Albany-Colonie, then the first 2 games of their best-of-5 playoff series will be in Albany, N.Y., a choice of the Suns.


Kent Baker


With one six-game homestand remaining, the Class A Keys will try to topple the Durham Bulls' Carolina League record for total attendance of 301,240.

The Bulls finished with that total this year in 64 dates, averaging 4,407 per game. Frederick has a better average (4,484) and, barring rain-outs, will have the benefit of playing four more dates.

The season-ending stand began last night against the Lynchburg Red Sox and will continue through the weekend against the Prince William Cannons.

Unfortunately for the defending league champion Keys, they will not have the attraction of a pennant race to help the gate.


* MISCELLANEOUS: In the latest personnel changes, pitchers Schullstrom and Dave Miller went to Hagerstown, and right-handers Mike Hebb and Alan Plaster joined the Keys from Kane County (Ill.). Hebb, a Glen Burnie native, gave up 1 run in his first 5 innings. . . . 1B Brent Miller has 10 homers and 29 RBI in 31 games since joining the team at the end of July. One more homer will tie him with Mel Wearing, the player he replaced, for the club record. . . . OF Damon Buford was the league's batter of the week last week. He has raised his average from .235 to .270 this month and is third in the league with 45 stolen bases. . . . Mark Smith, the Orioles' top choice in the June draft, has 28 RBI in 33 games and has played strong defense in the outfield. But his average is only .231. . . . Sergio Cairo had 2 hits in his first game back from a long stint on the DL because of a shoulder injury.

Kent Baker