CLEVELAND -- Remember the horror stories everybody used to tell about the defensive shortcomings of rookie third baseman Leo Gomez? Remember the error-ridden entrance he made last year, when he made enough misplays in his first two major-league games to last a month? Well, forget all that.
Gomez has worked long and hard to fill the hole in his game, and the hard work is paying off. He entered last night's series opener against the Cleveland Indians with just one error in his past 70 games.
The 24-year-old third baseman has not been blessed with great range, but he has been very dependable when the ball is within reach.
"He has a good work ethic," manager John Oates said. "He gets everything that is hit to him."
But he doesn't get to everything, which is why the Orioles have asked him to go to the Instructional League to work on improving his lateral movement. Gomez has agreed to go, and will continue his baseball education playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.
The club is satisfied with his rookie season. Gomez has exceeded expectations with the glove and has made a contribution at the plate, with 15 home runs and 42 RBI in 351 at-bats.
"I'm happy," said Gomez, who is hitting .234. "It's my first year in the big leagues, and I've hit 15 home runs, even though I didn't play every day at the start of the season and I'm still seeing a lot of pitchers for the first time."
Indians have Hart
The Indians announced this week that former Orioles coach John Hart will become the club's general manager when Hank Peters retires at the end of the season.
Hart will join a long list of current general managers who spent time in the Orioles organization. Frank Cashen (New York Mets), Harry Dalton (Milwaukee Brewers), Lou Gorman (Boston Red Sox), John Schuerholz (Atlanta Braves), Herk Robinson (Kansas City Royals), Jim Frey (Chicago Cubs), Joe McIlvaine (San Diego Padres) and, of course, Roland Hemond.
In addition, newly appointed California Angels senior vice president Whitey Herzog played for the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays GM PatGillick played in the Orioles system.
Williamson feeling stronger
It has been a tough season for right-hander Mark Williamson, but he is beginning to get people out with regularity. He entered the series against the Indians with a string of four consecutive scoreless outings (5 1/3 innings, four hits).
"I'm finally feeling better," he said. "I'm getting a little more rhythm. The little nagging things have healed. It's nice to pitch healthy for a change."
All high school and college students can purchase upper reserved seats for $2.50 for the 3 Red Sox-Orioles games this Monday through Wednesday at Memorial Stadium. . . . Only 18 of 96 batters have reached base by hit or walk against Jim Poole. That's a .188 on-base percentage. . . . Nice touch: The Orioles players paid to fly clubhouse attendant Butch Burnett to Cleveland so that he could attend the club's "fine" party. The party was paid for with fines collected during sessions of the Orioles Kangaroo Court.