Inquiries about Dawson's availability brought a cold...

Inquiries about Dawson's availability brought a cold shoulder 0) from Cubs

Of all the big names that could have been Orioles for the stretch drive, Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs was among the biggest.


The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that the Cubs twice rebuffed advances from the Orioles for Dawson, who trails only Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy in home runs hit by right-handed batters in the past 15 years.

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond would neither confirm nor deny whether the team sought Dawson, but manager Johnny Oates said the clubs did discuss the 38-year-old right fielder's availability before the Sept. 1 trading deadline.


"We had contact, but their contact was 'We're [the Cubs] closer to first than you are,' " Oates said.

Dawson will be a free agent after this season, and has said the Cubs might not want to re-sign him.

Out of fear of being accused of tampering, Oates declined to say whether the Orioles might be interested in obtaining Dawson.

There are a number of factors that might make Dawson attractive to the Orioles. He has not only a potent bat, but also one of baseball's strongest arms and could be available for outfield and designated-hitter duties. He has had chronic knee problems, however, and certainly would command a salary that might scare away the Orioles.

Also, Dawson is a native of Miami and would be a marquee draw for the Florida Marlins, who begin play next season in the NL.

Outfielder Luis Mercedes, recalled earlier this month from the Orioles' Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, got his second start in the past seven games last night, when the Toronto Blue Jays started left-hander Jimmy Key.

Oates said Mercedes might get another start tonight against Boston's Frank Viola in the first game of the season's final homestand.

Mercedes finished second in the International League in hitting this season and led the league in steals.


Carter hurt

Toronto right fielder Joe Carter left last night's game in the fourth inning with a bruise below his left kneecap. Carter hit a foul ball off his leg in the second inning, but singled and eventually scored. The injury is not considered serious and his availability is considered day-to-day.

Mills still unavailable

Oates said he had "no idea" when reliever Alan Mills would be available for duty. Mills, who is third in the American League in relief wins, has not worked since Sept. 13, because of an irritation in his right elbow. He was examined this week by a neurologist, who found no damage.

Making out a list

The Orioles will soon conduct their organizational meetings to evaluate rosters throughout their system. A byproduct of those meetings will be to formulate a list of 15 players that will be protected from the Marlins and the Colorado Rockies in November's expansion draft.


"We're a long way from deciding which 15 men we're protecting," Oates said. "There's two names on that list [Cal Ripken and Glenn Davis] and that's about it."

Bases loaded; where's Devo?

The Orioles public relations department, with the help of the Elias Sports Bureau, has determined that Mike Devereaux is having the best season ever batting with the bases loaded, or at least since they started keeping such records in 1975.

Devereaux's 13 hits this year surpass the 11 bases-loaded hits by the Oakland Athletics' Terry Steinbach (1990), the Los Angeles Dodgers' Steve Garvey (1977), the Minnesota Twins' Larry Hisle (1977), the New York Yankees' Chris Chambliss (1978), the St. Louis Cardinals' Willie McGee (1982), the Cleveland Indians' Pat Tabler (1983) and the Montreal Expos' Hubie Brooks (1985).