The best-looking athletic specimen among the ballplayers working out in the Oriole weight room at Memorial Stadium yesterday was not even an Oriole.
Linskey looks like a scout's dream. He's 6 feet 5 and 220 pounds with bulging muscles in his shoulders and calves. He's a lefthanded pitcher, something most major-league clubs are looking for.
And he's feeling great, the opposite of the way he felt last year as an Oriole farmhand trying to rehabilitate from a lower back injury.
"I strained muscles in the small of my back last year in spring training," Linskey said. "The club sent me to Rochester on rehab assignment, but it was so cold up there in those April and May nights that I never did recover."
He went 1-5 in Rochester.
"Then they sent me to Double A in Hagerstown and I was 6-5 up there. The Orioles tried to slip me through the draft on the minor-league roster but John Barr knew me from his days in the Oriole front office."
Barr, who worked in personnel for the O's, is now the Padres' assistant general manager.
"John saw that I was available so he drafted me," Linskey said. "I'm on the Padres' 40-man major-league roster. I can't wait to go to Yuma [Ariz.] to spring training. The warm weather there and in San Diego ought to be great for me."
"We're keeping an open mind on Mike," Barr said. "The only lefthanded starter on our club is Bruce Hurst. We don't have any lefthanders coming up from Triple A either who are ready to step right in.
"We'll take a good look at Mike in the spring and decide where to use him. We don't like to discourage or rush a player. We like to bring 'em up here when they're ready to stay."
A big, strong, hard-throwing lefty -- assuming that's what Linskey still is at 26 -- would look good in an Oriole uniform. But the former Loyola High pitching ace is happy to be going somewhere with a warm climate and to a club that needs lefty pitching.
Muggsy Bogues and Reggie Williams, now NBA players, were the stars of that Poet team. Reggie Lewis was only the sixth man -- and now he's the only one who's an All-Star.
I saw the Bogues-driven Dunbar teams, and I've seen the school's undefeated team today that's rated No. 1 in the country. Muggsy's team was better.
Of course, Donta Bright and Co. still haven't completed their high school careers. When they do, it will be time for comparisons between the two powerhouse teams.
"It'll be close," says Dunbar coach Pete Pompey.
* The Towson State lacrosse team that was the Cinderella story of the 1991 season, getting all the way to the NCAA championship game before losing to North Carolina, has had a rather nightmarish offseason.
The Tigers have lost one player after another who was expected back. The goalie, Rich Betcher, was declared academically ineligible. So were Travis Boone and Kyle Kernan.
And now the worst blow of all, defensive ace Steve Kisslinger has been ruled ineligible. In one of his two seasons at Central New York's Herkimer Community College, Kisslinger played in two scrimmages and sat out the year for medical reasons. Towson assumed Kisslinger would be granted a hardship year for that, but the East Coast Conference has made him ineligible. Kisslinger also played at Adelphi in 1990.
"It's a tragedy," says Towson coach Carl Runk. "I've been coaching 25 years and Steve's the best defenseman I've ever seen on takeaways. He is to defense what the Gait twins [Paul and Gary] are to offense.
"The NCAA just changed the rule at its convention two weeks ago. It goes into effect in August and it would make Kisslinger eligible then, but this is his fifth and final year of college eligibility.
"I'm going to see if we can appeal the case to the NCAA. If they have any compassion they'll give him his year this spring instead of five months later."
* The State of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame, which will enshrine Marvin Webster, Moose Haas, Nick Kropfelder and the late Lois Waring McGean on Feb. 17, has a first this year.
In the 37 years the Hall of Fame has honored Maryland-born athletes, those who were deceased have been represented by widows, widowers, surviving family and friends.
Accepting for the former Lois Waring, who won more than 30 national and international pairs ice dancing championships, will be her former partner, Michael McGean, whom she married in 1952. He will come here from the family's home near Hanover, N.H., for the ceremony.
Tickets are available from D. Chester O'Sullivan at 333-6315. The public is invited.