TONIGHT: Ex-catcher Oates gives Tackett every break in big-league debut


Drawing on a piece of experience from his own playing days, Orioles manager John Oates told Jeff Tackett two days ago that the rookie catcher would make his major-league debut tonight (7:35, HTS).

"When I was playing on an infrequent basis, I know I alwayappreciated it when I was told a day or two ahead of time," said Oates, who spent 10 years in the big leagues as a catcher, mostly as a backup. "It gave me a better chance to prepare."

In Tackett's case, Oates is going a step further. He's purposelbeen paired with righthander Mike Mussina (2-4, 4.08), who will face the Yankees' Wade Taylor (7-8, 5.79).

Tackett is familiar with Mussina, having caught him most of thi ++ season and the last part of 1990 at Rochester. "Working with somebody I know should definitely make it a little easier," said Tackett, one of several outstanding defensive catchers in the Orioles' organization.

"I had a chance to sit with Mike the last two nights and go ovethe hitters," said Tackett. "We'll take it from there and see how it goes."

Tackett hit only .237 at Rochester this year, but was recognizeas the top receiver in the Triple A International League. He threw out 49 of 94 runners attempting to steal (52 percent) and in his last three years he has a 48 percent success ratio (106 of 219) catching would-be basestealers.

In tonight's game the Orioles will be attempting to sweep NeYork at Memorial Stadium for the first time since taking five straight Sept. 13-16, 1982. They will also be trying to even the season series, which the Yankees currently lead, 5-4.

Cleveland comes in tomorrow for a four-game series.

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