Parent's availability allows more flexibility behind the plate


The Orioles finally are reaping the benefits of their effort to persuade reserve catcher Mark Parent to remain in the organization after he was optioned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings at the end of spring training.

Parent has two hits and two RBI in his first seven at-bats since he was recalled, but that isn't really the issue. The payoff was in the club's ability to reach down into the minor leagues and come up with another experienced catcher in the middle of a pennant race.

That has allowed manager Johnny Oates to be conservative with starting catcher Chris Hoiles, who has been sidelined with a muscle strain in his lower back. Hoiles was due back in the lineup by now, but there is no reason to rush him while Parent and Jeff Tackett are contributing at the plate and behind it.

Tackett had two hits in seven at-bats in the four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers and had the game-winning RBI Monday and Tuesday.

"We're getting healthier," Oates said, "but with the two guys catching as well as they are, Chris will get a few more days off."

Hammonds available, sort of

Rookie outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, who has been hampered all year by a neck problem, took batting practice and pinch-ran last night in the eighth inning.

"There has been no change," Oates said. "He's swinging the bat decently. We'll use him to run and pinch hit, but he won't throw the ball until he has some more tests."

The working diagnosis of Hammonds' injury is a pinched nerve in his neck, which is causing pain to radiate into his shoulder and upper back. Further tests are planned to determine whether he is suffering from a disk problem.

Davis making progress

Oates said that he has been impressed with the way that Glenn Davis has progressed.

"He's swinging the bat very well," Oates said. "He has been hitting the ball into the seats. I'll take that."

The first baseman will continue to work out at Camden Yards during the coming road trip. There is no timetable for his return to the active roster, but it figures to be after the

rosters expand Sept. 1.

Doctors still don't want him taking ground balls without a special face mask, for fear of re-injuring the fractured jaw that he suffered when he was punched by a bouncer in Virginia Beach, Va., in June.

Davis seems determined to return to the lineup. He remained in good spirits even after he was hit in the head by a foul ball last Sunday.

"That doesn't surprise me," Oates said. "If he was going to get down, he'd have gotten down a year ago."

Lopes on managing

Orioles first-base coach Davey Lopes has heard his name mentioned in more managerial rumors this year, but he said he'll manage in the Arizona Fall League regardless of his off-season job status.

"It's not just to gain experience," he said. "It's also to see if I like it and I feel that I'm good at it. If I don't feel I'll enjoy doing it, then I'll let it be known that I don't want to manage."

Lopes was interviewed by the San Francisco Giants before his friend Dusty Baker got that job last winter. He has been mentioned this season as a possibility to manage the Houston Astros next year.

Buford inducted

Don Buford took time out from his duties as manager of the Double-A Bowie Baysox to be officially inducted as the 24th member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.

"I have to say thanks to the fans," Buford said in brief remarkduring ceremonies before the Orioles' game.

"I think I played for the fans. I played to the best of my ability sthat you would enjoy the game," Buford said. "Loving the Orioles like I did, I wanted to play on a championship team every year."

The most proficient leadoff hitter in Orioles history, Buforplayed on the club's three AL championship teams from 1969 to 1971. A .264 lifetime hitter, Buford hit .291, .272 and .290 during those three seasons, when he also hit 47 home runs.

World's shortest rain delay

The sellout crowd was dampened by a sudden cloudburst at the start of the second inning, which precipitated perhaps the shortest rain delay in major-league history. The grounds crew began to move the tarp onto the field, but was immediately waved off by the umpires. The start of the inning was held up a minute or so.

One inning later, the rain intensified and the game was interrupted for 41 minutes.

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