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Due to Dempsey, Birds will pass on Parrish


MILWAUKEE -- Power-hitting catcher Lance Parrish could become available tomorrow, but the Orioles apparently won't make a pitch for him.

The California Angels had announced their intention to release Parrish the same day Chris Hoiles broke his wrist, which led to speculation the Orioles might have an interest in signing him as a free agent.

If Parrish clears waivers, he could be had for a pro-rated portion of the minimum major-league salary ($109,000), but manager Johnny Oates said he has made a "semi-commitment" to give veteran Rick Dempsey the opportunity to back up rookie Jeff Tackett.

"This is the situation that I asked Rick to stay around for," Oates said. "He has been working out with the team, pitching batting practice and helping out. If I tell somebody something, I'm going to do everything in my power to keep my word.

"I didn't promise him anything, because I don't make promises that I'm not sure I can keep, but if there is such a thing as a semi-commitment, that is what I made to Rick."

Dempsey, 42, has been with the club since the beginning of spring training. He came to camp as a non-roster invitee, hoping to win the No. 2 catching job, but he was outplayed by Tackett, a rookie. Now, it appears Dempsey will serve as Tackett's backup for at least the next few weeks.

Oates said he discussed the catching situation with general manager Roland Hemond on the club's flight to Milwaukee on Monday night. They are not convinced Parrish would solve more problems than he might create.

"I can make a move," Oates said, "but the guy has to be a guy who's better than Rick who's willing to sit on the bench. I don't want to create a problem."

The Orioles are operating under the assumption that Parrish would not be satisfied with a reserve role, and club officials are not convinced they would be better off bringing him in to start ahead of Tackett.

"It's not set in cement, but that's very unlikely at the moment," Oates said.

"Who knows? This could be a blessing in disguise. This will give us a chance to evaluate Jeff. It's tough to get a reading on a guy when he plays only once every six or seven days."

* STEAL STREAK ENDS: Tackett started to justify Oates' faith in him last night, going 1-for-3 in the 7-1 victory and ending the opposition's successful steal streak at 20.

Tackett threw out Brewers outfielder Darryl Hamilton stealing in the third inning. Hamilton had stolen second in the first inning to stretch the streak against the Orioles to 20. Tackett also gunned down B.J. Surhoff with a pickoff throw to third an inning later.

* POOLE OPTIONED: Lefthander Jim Poole completed his 30-day injury rehabilitation assignment and was taken off the disabled list yesterday, but he was optioned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings to continue his comeback from shoulder tendinitis.

"He told me that the last five days he has felt the best he has felt all year," Oates said. "Boz [pitching coach Dick Bosman] caught him in Baltimore and felt that he was throwing well. We're going to leave him down there for a few days and then look at him again."

* HULETT HURTING: Utility man Tim Hulett was the forgotten man when Hoiles was injured Sunday. Moments after Hoiles was hit on the wrist by a pitch from New York Yankees righthander Tim Leary, Hulett also took a pitch off his arm. He apparently suffered only a bruise, but yesterday was seen wearing an arm-length ice pack before the game.

Hulett said that the ball hit him above the left elbow, but that the swelling extended down to his forearm. He sat out last night's game, but said he was available to play.

* GOMEZ STILL SORE: Third baseman Leo Gomez said his sore right shoulder has improved, but you would never know from the way he threw the ball in the second inning.

Gomez picked up a ground ball by Dave Nilsson and side-armed a looping throw to first base that pulled Randy Milligan off the bag for an error.

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