KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The impending return of starting catcher Chris Hoiles will have a significant impact on the playing time of backup Jeff Tackett, but he doesn't seem particularly concerned.
Tackett and Mark Parent are vying for a reserve role when Hoiles returns, but Tackett has been the main man behind the plate for much of eight weeks that Hoiles has been on the disabled list.
"Nothing has changed for me," Tackett said. "It's the same as when I wasn't playing. It's the same as when Chris wasn't hurt. I don't feel any pressure. I'm just going to keep at it, and as long as we're winning, everything is all right with me."
Manager Johnny Oates said last week that he would take a long look at each backup before deciding who will remain when Hoiles returns this week. The catcher who doesn't stay on the 25-man roster only figures to be out of the loop for a matter of days because the rosters expand on Sept. 1, but the decision still is important to the players involved.
"I would feel secure no matter what I've done," said Tackett. "I feel good about what I've accomplished and I feel I've got some more to accomplish before the year is out."
It will not be an easy decision. The Orioles were impressed with the way Parent rebounded from a serious knee injury to be one of the top hitters in the International League. He has not asserted himself at the plate in the major leagues, but he has only had 20 plate appearances (two hits, two walks and two sacrifice bunts).
The Orioles soon will sit down and formulate their protected list for the Nov. 17 expansion draft. Chances are, they will leave both of their second basemen off their 15-man protected list, which could mean a suspenseful autumn for Bill Ripken and Mark McLemore.
"It's not at the point where it is a troubling thing," said Ripken, who literally grew up in the Orioles organization. "It's not something that you can do anything about anyway."
Ripken was asked if he had considered what it might be like to play in another organization.
"Ideally, I wouldn't want to find out," he said.
McLemore said he wasn't concerned, either. He thinks that neither he nor Ripken fits the profile of the kind of players the expansion clubs are looking for.
"I doubt they are going to be looking for a 28-year-old second baseman," said McLemore, whose five years of major-league service time make him a risky draftee. "Billy is in the same situation."
McLemore is not out of the question, however. The Florida
Marlins figure to depend heavily on the advice of longtime major-league scout Cookie Rojas, who was McLemore's biggest supporter when both were in the California Angels organization.
Off the cuff
Ben McDonald was asked yesterday why he always wears a single pull-on sleeve over his pitching arm.
L "It keeps my elbow attached to the rest of my arm," he said.
The Orioles entered last night's game with a chance to win their fifth straight game at Royals Stadium. The last time they won five in a row was in 1969-70, when they won the first 12 games they ever played there. . . . The Royals made a roster move late Friday night, purchasing the contract of pitcher Rich Sauveur from the Triple-A Omaha Royals. To make room, the club optioned left-hander Dennis Moeller to Omaha. He was 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA in four major-league starts.