When the Bowie Baysox finally decided to play at Memorial Stadium after construction of their new stadium was delayed, team officials weren't sure how fans would react at the temporary home.
More than a month into the Eastern League season, the jury is still out.
But a verdict may arrive during this weekend's series with the New Britain Red Sox, as the Baysox's promotion schedule kicks into high gear.
"This is our first real test," said general manager Keith Lupton. "The Orioles are out of town, the weather has gotten better and we have three promotions."
Through their first 14 dates, the Baysox averaged 2,291 fans, fifth in the eight-team league.
But their average was inflated by a turnout of 7,210 for the home opener and crowds of 5,608 and 4,680 during a weekend series against Canton-Akron when ideal weather prevailed.
Overall, the weather "has been terrible," said Lupton.
NOTES: The Baysox dropped under .500 (7-8) on the road by dropping two of three at Canton-Akron and Reading on their latest trip. . . . The highlight of the trip was a five-homer game against Canton-Akron won by the Baysox, 12-5. Tim Holland connected twice and Edgar Alfonso, Stanton Cameron and Gregg Zaun once each. . . . The Baysox are hitting .319 against left-handed pitching with T. R. Lewis leading the way at .438. . . . Today's New Britain starter, Tim Smith, was the only 20-game loser in the league last season. He won three games. . . . Jim Dedrick still has not allowed an earned run in 22 1/3 innings of relief, but opponents caught up with Chuck Ricci, battering him for five runs in two separate relief appearances. ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Jeffrey Hammonds doesn't think he's learning much baseball these days, relegated to being the designated hitter while the muscle spasms in his right trapezius relax its grip on his neck.
But Hammonds is getting a valuable lesson, whether he knows it or not.
"What he's going through this year will pay off next year," Red Wings manager Bob Miscik said. "There's no question he has the ability to play in the big leagues. The only question I have is how he'll handle the day-to-day rigor. No one expects anyone to play hurt. There are times you run out there when you're not feeling good."
Hammonds has missed three games since waking up with the muscle spasms on May 6 in Ottawa. He had gone 4-for-16 with two doubles and an RBI as DH in his previous three games before Friday night.
"It's frustrating," Hammonds said.
* Shortstop Manny Alexander is expected to be out at least another week while the ligament on the inside of his left ankle heals. Alexander turned his ankle May 7 in Pawtucket, running out a ground ball.
* Anthony Telford had the best of his 15 outings Thursday against Ottawa, pitching four shutout innings and striking out seven.
Suns: Homer heaven
HAGERSTOWN -- The Suns and their opponents are gaining quickly on last season's combined home-run total at Municipal Stadium.
With a bullpen installed in front of the right-center-field wall, making the alley about 23 feet shorter, teams already have belted 28 homers in Hagerstown, only seven fewer than all of 1992.
Of that total, 19 have left the park and four landed in the bullpen.
NOTES: Gord Ash, assistant general manager of the parent Toronto Blue Jays, was in town last week to present World Series rings to owner Winston Blenckstone, manager Jim Nettles and others who were with the organization last season. . . . The Suns are 4-9 without catcher Angel Martinez, who is on the disabled list with a broken right hand.
Keys Looking for action
FREDERICK -- The Keys were simply aching for a little activity this weekend.
Entering the start of a series against Lynchburg on Friday night, they had played only once since last Sunday, thanks to a scheduled off day and two postponements at Prince William.
The two rainouts against the Cannons were rescheduled as part of consecutive doubleheaders May 28 and May 29 at Frederick's Grove Stadium.
Since the Carolina League plays its season in halves and the two teams were not slated to meet again until the second half, the games had to be played on the Keys' field.
NOTES: OF Jason Alstead was promoted to Triple-A Rochester despite a .228 batting average because of the outfield situation at the upper levels of the Orioles' organization. Frederick received Roy Hodge from Albany (Ga.) to replace him.