FREDERICK — Bowie's Devarez tries to catch up with bat
For the first time in his pro career, Cesar Devarez is making waves with his bat, not his arm.
That has others taking note of the Dominican-born catcher.
"He has opened up his stance," said Bowie Baysox manager Don Buford. "Before, he was closed and stepping open and nobody tried to make any adjustments.
"He's sticking with this stance because the strikeouts have cut down and he's making good contact."
Devarez was a walking description of the term "raw talent" when Orioles scout Carlos Bernhardt signed him out of the Dominican Summer League in 1988.
The most prominent feature of his game was a cannon-like throwing arm, one that caught 37 of 78 base stealers (47.4 percent) at Frederick two years ago, second best in the organization to Jeff Tackett.
"He has a plus-plus major-league arm," Buford said.
But there were a lot of refinements to make in his other catching skills, a continuing process, and he had a lot of work to do at the plate.
"They [Orioles] told me I have to hit the ball more," said Devarez, whose best offensive season (.251) was also at Frederick. "I'm doing better. The front leg is not open anymore, and I'm sticking with one stance. I feel more comfortable now."
The change is reflected in a 20-for-53 (.377) surge in the past month after he was batting .179 in his first month with Bowie. He is only 4-for-23 throwing out base runners over the same span, however, after nabbing seven of his first nine.
On paper, Devarez appeared to step backward this year when he was assigned back to Frederick after a year in Double-A. But that was because the Orioles wanted him and Gregg Zaun, who originally went to the Baysox, to get regular work.
"They told me I was going there so I could play every day," Devarez said. "That was OK with me."
Buford says catchers such as Devarez could improve quicker with the help of a minor-league catching coach, a luxury the Orioles do not have.
"He hadn't caught that much growing up, and he didn't have a lot of instruction. Rick Dempsey was impressed with him the little time they spent together, and Cesar would benefit a lot if he had regular help like that," Buford said.
The hitting aspect is being handled by minor-league instructors Wally Moon and Joel Youngblood.
"Cesar has learned bat control," Buford said. "He's the best hit-and-run guy on the club right now. I'm not afraid to do that with him up there."
Devarez eventually may be able to produce some power. And, at 23, he still has time to improve his catching mechanics.
But there is no teaching the arm strength. "It's just natural," Devarez said.
NOTES: In the past seven games against Eastern League power Harrisburg, the Baysox have given up 33 total runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. . . . Entering the weekend, Stanton Cameron had 20 RBI in his previous 18 games with seven doubles and seven home runs. He was batting .391 with a .797 slugging percentage. Cameron became the third Baysox player with a two-homer game (Tim Holland and Sherman Obando are VTC
the others). ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Bruce Dostal, who took over in center field when Jeffrey Hammonds went to the Orioles, lost his job and temporarily his roster spot to Damon Buford. Dostal went on the disabled list Wednesday when Buford returned from the Orioles.
"I have a sore elbow, but they could use the room," said Dostal, who has been playing for a month with a tender left (throwing) elbow.
Buford's return meant Dostal, batting .350 in his past 12 games, would drop to being the fourth outfielder. Dostal, who signed as a free agent the day Buford went up, but then found his job taken by Hammonds, knows these things happen to minor-league journeymen.
"With Damon coming down, I wouldn't play much. I've been fortunate to this point to get playing time. I hope what I've done has impressed enough to get me a job for next year."
He is expected to be activated Wednesday when Triple-A
rosters expand by two to 25 players.
"I'm not happy about the situation," Dostal said. "But for a week . . ."
A healthy, rested Dostal will be necessary for the playoffs, when the Red Wings could be without Buford, Chito Martinez and maybe Mark Smith.
Buford, who had a 19-game hit streak awaiting his return, went 0-for-3 Wednesday in Scranton.
* Paul Carey is just shaking off the affects of his second call-up.
"When I left here I was in a groove," said Carey, who was batting .321 on July 4. "I'm still finding my stroke."
He went 12-for-32 in a recent nine-game span to push his average to .319. That run faded, as he went 2-for-19 and had 11 strikeouts in 16 at-bats during a stretch last week.
Carey thinks the Orioles handled him well, giving him enough of a chance to play so that he won't be nervous if he gets back during the pennant race. But he wasn't distraught at being sent out.
"It can hurt all players to watch," he said. "The toughest thing for [David] Segui was to sit for three years. Now he's showing he can play. . . . You can watch some of the best players out there. But you have to be out there doing it yourself."
NOTES: Zaun hit in his first two games after being promoted from Bowie when Mark Parent went to the Orioles. . . . LF Martinez assisted on two of the Red Wings' season-high five double plays Monday against Scranton. Martinez threw out a runner at the plate in the ninth inning and earlier had thrown out a runner going to third. . . . While the team batting average hovers near .270, Red Wings leadoff batters Buford, Dostal, Tommy Hinzo and Manny Alexander have hit more than .300. No. 2 batter Hinzo led the team with 58 RBI. . . . After terrorizing pitchers for 20 games (26-for-75, with 10 doubles, four homers, 20 RBI), Martinez fell into an 0-for-22 slump. . . .Smith was 5-for-36 in his past 10 games, dropping his average to .301. He hasn't been below .300 since May 9. . . . RHP Kevin McGehee continues to lead active pitchers in the International League with a 2.58 ERA.
Keys: Entrances, exits
FREDERICK -- Comings and goings were the order of the week for the Keys, who finished with two fewer players when the movement ended. Utility player Dan Ramirez, a .215 batter, was promoted to Bowie, and catcher B. J. Waszgis (.248) returned to the Albany (Ga.) Polecats for more playing time. The Keys also released pitcher Lee Cusey (1-1, 3.58).
Promoted from Albany was reliever Armando Benitez, who was sensational in the South Atlantic League. In 53 1/3 innings, Benitez struck out 83, walked 19 and compiled a 5-1 record and 1.52 ERA.
NOTES: OF Alex Ochoa, a highly rated prospect, was on a late-season rush toward the Carolina League RBI title. He moved into second place with 73, three behind the leader. . . . Maryland native Rick Forney ranks among the top two in wins (11) and strikeouts (134).
Suns: A winning July
The Suns had their best month of the season in July and put themselves into position to make the South Atlantic League playoffs. They went 20-10 during the month, including 12-4 at Municipal Stadium, to take a two-game, second-half lead over Spartanburg in the Northern Division.
The second-half champion plays Greensboro, the first-half winner, in a best-of-three series for the North title. The winner advances to a best-of-five league title series against the South champ.
* One-time Blue Jays shortstop Eddie Zosky completed a 19-day rehabilitation assignment with the Suns and went to Triple-A Syracuse.
Zosky didn't hit (2-for-20), but fielded superbly with no errors in 25 chances.
NOTES: Municipal homer update: 76 overall, 49 by the Suns, who hit 11 at home last season. . . . D. J. Boston holds a slim lead in the league batting race and has a chance for two-thirds of a triple crown. He has 83 RBI.