AH Red Wings' Wearing is red-hot since arriving from Double-A
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- It's hard to overlook 6-foot-3, 235-pound Mel Wearing, but until he hit his first professional grand slam, Wearing believed people never saw him.
"I've been playing the game since '89, and it seems like not too many people know me," said Wearing, who sparked a four-run first inning with an RBI single and added the grand slam in the fifth of a 9-1 rout over the Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday night.
Fans may not know Wearing, but they know the type. His dimensions invite comparisons with Randy Milligan and Sam Horn that even in the early stages are growing tiresome to the 25-year-old, who will make a living based on what he does with a bat, not a glove.
"His ability to play at the next level will be [determined on] how well he swings the bat," Rochester manager Jerry Narron said.
Wearing has helped the Red Wings to a season-high eight-game winning streak in the 13 games he has played since his promotion from the Double-A Hagerstown Suns.
The right-handed batter has driven in 15 runs (five Wednesday) on 16 hits and has a 10-game hitting streak. His five RBI Wednesday were more than the player he replaced, Scott Meadows, had in two months.
Despite being the catalyst for the offense, Wearing believed he labored in obscurity because his RBI have come off pedestrian singles or doubles. He longed to rattle the public-address
speakers that hang over the center-field wall at Silver Stadium, more than 400 feet from the plate.
"A big power hitter like myself getting just regular base hits to right field, they don't pay attention to that," he said. "I don't feel like I did anything yet. I want to open some eyes. Shock people."
If his power hasn't yet done it, maybe this will.
Wearing wants to be considered a fielder -- not Cecil Fielder -- so he wants to lose 20 more pounds.
"I think I'm overweight, said Wearing, who weighed 270 as a tight end at Norfolk State. "I would be a better athlete than what I am now. It would give me a better chance in the field. I would be more agile."
* With the emergence of Brady Anderson as a leadoff batter and the signing of No. 1 draft pick Jeffrey Hammonds, Luis Mercedes said he believes his career as an Oriole is over.
"Brady Anderson is the best leadoff hitter the organization has," Mercedes said. "They sign the new draft pick and say he'll be in the big leagues soon."
Those developments have left Mercedes, 24, working to impress the scouts and expecting a trade.
Mercedes has hit in 11 of his past 15 games (with eight multiple-hit games in the stretch) to raise his average from .262 to .299. He also stole seven bases in a six-game span.
"Now I have something in my heart," Mercedes said. "Maybe in the future I say the Orioles were wrong."
Mercedes is also motivated by what he considers slights of omission made by the Orioles. He has spent the season living down a helmet-throwing incident from last August, in which he injured an opponent, and has adopted a go-along-to-get-along attitude with teammates and the media.
"Last year I was working on my attitude," he said. "I made a mistake. They were all over me in the papers. Now I just want to play baseball. I've changed my attitude. I try to be nice. I try to do the best I can. The Orioles never said anything about Mercedes improving."
* Several players are calling it more than a coincidence that the winning streak began when Bob Milacki came down from the Orioles. Milacki won the second and seventh games of what has become an eight-game streak going into the weekend.
"He came down with a great attitude," said outfielder/first baseman Doug Jennings. "He brought some of that winning attitude they had in Baltimore."
"Bob's a professional," said third baseman Tommy Shields, who was called up by the Orioles on Friday night. "I think other guys see how he goes about his business, how he expects to win."
* MISCELLANEOUS: CF Ed Yacopino threw out two runners trying for third base in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over Pawtucket. Yacopino has hit in his past nine starts to raise his average from .257 to .280. . . . C Mark Parent has not gone more than two games without a hit or four games without an RBI in July. HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Suns are in the midst of an important homestand as they continue their bid to overtake two teams for the fourth Double-A Eastern League playoff berth.
After beating the Canton-Akron Indians three of four times (including the completion of a suspended game) to start the stretch, they are facing the third-place Harrisburg Senators and first-place Binghamton Mets through the middle of this week.
They were 8-6 against Harrisburg entering the weekend, but have won only three of 13 with Binghamton.
Power production would help the Suns' cause. They have hit only six homers at Municipal Stadium and 21 overall (the opposition has 51) to rank a distant last in the league.
Paul Carey's game-winning homer Thursday night was their first in 19 home games.
And scoring first would be a good idea. The team is 33-9 when it gets the jump on the opposition, 14-45 when it doesn't.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Canton-Akron reliever Bill Wertz had a 7-0 record before bowing three times to the Suns within 10 days. . . . Mark Williamson was charged with two balks in his first rehabilitation appearance. On a 30-pitch limit, he went two innings and allowed two hits and two earned runs. . . . P Mike Hook, P Jeff Bumgarner and C Mike Lehman have been released. C Troy Tallman was returned to Single-A Kane County. . . . The Suns signed their first Hagerstown native, Mickey Billmeyer, to replace Tallman on the roster. Billmeyer, 27, was released by the California organization where he had been playing at Triple-A Edmonton.
Keys get home run fever
FREDERICK -- Frederick Keys home run records have been falling like duckpins.
In the same game a week ago, outfielder Stanton Cameron bashed an 11th-inning grand slam against the Winston-Salem Spirits that toppled three marks, including the team's high for a season (69).
It was the Keys' third grand slam of the year, another record, and gave Cameron his third two-homer game of the season, a club record.
Each time he connects, Cameron adds to the franchise's career high for homers, now at 18, four better than Ken Shamburg's previous high.
Cameron went on an overall tear during that stretch. In a 13-game span ending July 19, Cameron hit .400 with five homers and 19 RBI.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Through the team's first 98 games, Bo Ortiz had seven hits in 52 at-bats. Then he went on a 7-for-11 surge and raised his average from .135 to .222. . . . Terry Farrar was the winning pitcher in the Carolina League All-Star Game last week in Salem, Va. He pitched two scoreless innings to gain the 5-2 victory for the Northern Division. . . . OF Jim Wawruck and C Greg Zaun of the Keys also started for the North. Wawruck
contributed a key run-scoring single.