Despite 6-run outing, pitcher Rhodes catches a...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Despite 6-run outing, pitcher Rhodes catches a break

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Arthur Rhodes' pitching line against Richmond accurately reflected the outcome of the game.

The left-hander gave up six runs on six hits (three of them home runs) in 3 1/3 innings for the Rochester Red Wings in a 10-5 loss Tuesday.

But the statistics didn't show the progress Rhodes has made in breaking his reliance on his fastball.

"He knows his breaking ball is progressing," pitching coach Steve Luebber said. "It's getting sharper. He's getting better arm speed."

Two of the homers came after Rhodes had fallen behind in the count, and the left-hander went back to his favorite pitch.

But that's taking the narrow view, Luebber said.

"You don't want to walk the guy because you're up 5-2 at the time," Luebber said. "He threw the fastball, [the batter] got it up in the wind."

Rhodes, 22, has shown more signs of moving forward than standing still in his three starts. Luebber praised the pitcher's willingness to change his habits.

"He was better Day 1 of spring training than when he was called up last year from Hagerstown," said Luebber, the Double-A pitching coach last season. "He's progressed from that . . . but you don't go from throwing 15 breaking balls and changeups to throwing 45."

Rhodes immediately impressed the rest of the International League, earning Pitcher of the Week honors for the opening week. The left-hander was 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA after two starts.

* Catcher Mark Parent reinjured his left hamstring Sunday while running out a ground ball in his first game back since going on the disabled list and has not played since. Parent, who came down with the injury in spring training, aggravated it in the first game of the season and went on the disabled list for seven days.

"We're going to be very cautious," said manager Jerry Narron, who added that he'll let the veteran tell him when he's ready to play. "Both times before he said he was ready, too. If a player tells you he's ready to go, what are you supposed to do, wait three or four more days? When he says he's ready, he'll be back in there."

Parent's injury has delayed Narron's decision on which of the two backup catchers, Doug Robbins or Mike Lehman, to keep.

* Alan Mills' promotion to the Orioles left the Red Wings without a closer. Right-hander Jim Lewis, the latest candidate, blew a save Wednesday in Richmond when he gave up a two-run homer to tie the game in the ninth, then allowed the game-winning hit in the 10th.

Right-hander Tim Layana, signed April 18 after Mills went to the major leagues, has made two one-inning appearances. Because he was released in spring training and had gone several weeks without pitching in competition, the Red Wings aren't sure how long it will take for him to regain his arm strength and command so they can count on him on a regular basis.

* Five of the Red Wings' seven losses going into the weekend were by one run and could be traced to their lack of extra-base hits.

They went six games between home runs, and 22 singles between extra-base hits. The lack of power was a preseason concern. Narron had hoped to be able to take Paul Carey, a left-handed hitter with power. But his shoulder hadn't recovered enough from off-season surgery to allow him to throw, and Narron couldn't justify a spot on a 23-man roster for someone who couldn't play in the field.

NOTES: 3B Tommy Shields had hit in the first seven games and nine of 10. . . . Scott Meadows has also hit in nine of 10. He played the first nine games at the designated hitter, and made his debut in left field Thursday. . . . Because of rainouts and days off, Mike Oquist has made only one start. Dennis Rasmussen waited out four rainouts to make his first start. HAGERSTOWN -- Municipal Stadium is a deathtrap to home run hitters.

Only 44 homers were hit there last season, fewest in the Eastern League, and the trend is continuing. In 11 home games this year, the Suns have one homer -- by 1991 top draft choice Mark Smith.

The Suns went 413 plate appearances through 12 games before their first homer.

Smith's carried over a chain-link fence in front of a high wall (18 feet in left, 26 feet in center) which only three balls have cleared, one by Harrisburg's Derrick White last week.

The distances are 335 feet down each line, 385 over the wall in left center, and 400 feet in center.

Overall, the Suns hit 52 home runs in 1991, second fewest in the league to New Britain (41).

NOTES: Rodney Lofton, Manny Alexander and Damon Buford combined for 21 steals in the first 13 games, with Lofton's eight leading the league. The Suns had a 5-1 record when Lofton swiped at least a base and Alexander had four steals of third. . . . The catchers, Ed Horowitz, Paul Williams and Cesar Devares, threw out 10 of the first 20 people trying to steal. . . . P Ron Blumberg returned to Frederick and P Chuck Ricci was promoted to the Suns. Daryl Moore rejoined the staff from the seven-day disabled list. . . . Kip Yaughn was the top starter in the early going with an 0.50 ERA through his first 20 innings.

Kent Baker

Keys

FREDERICK

FREDERICK -- The Keys, who finished 16th among all minor-league teams in attendance last season, are running at a sluggish pace this month.

Cold and rainy weather held them to a 2,600 average for their first seven home games, third in the Carolina League to Durham and Winston-Salem.

The tarpaulin was pulled for five of those games.

Frederick attracted 318,354 fans last season, outdrawing all Double-A clubs and 10 Triple-A cities, including Vancouver, Edmonton and Phoenix.

NOTES: OF Jim Wawruck has joined the team from extended spring training, where he was rehabilitating a shoulder injury. . . . P Matt Anderson has struck out 24 in 16 innings and has a 3.94 ERA but has been unlucky. He has an 0-2 record and was the victim of four errors in one start. . . . Former Key Tony Beasley will be playing for the Salem Buccaneers against the Keys tomorrow night. He was the player to be named later in the Tommy Shields deal with Pittsburgh. . . . Stanton Cameron, JTC acquired by the Orioles in the Rule V draft, had two doubles, three homers and 10 RBI in his first 10 games. . . . The best start by a Key was a one-hit, eight-inning shutout gem by Alan Plaster.

Kent Baker

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