The signs are pointing toward June 16 for the long-delayed opening of Prince George's Stadium, the permanent home for the Bowie Baysox.
Earlier this week, the Double-A club announced that its upcoming seven-game homestand will be played at University of Maryland.
"We're planning on the next two homestands at Maryland," principal owner Peter Kirk said. "But if during the second one we feel comfortable with the situation, we'll move to Prince George's Stadium. We just don't want any doubt about getting off on the right foot with our fans."
The Baysox probably could move sooner because most of the basics (seats, scoreboard) will be ready. But the main parking lot -- scheduled to hold 2,000 cars with room for 1,000 more in an overflow lot -- probably will not be paved in time.
"We paid $170,000 to put in lights at Maryland, so we might as well play there," Kirk said. "The parking lot is day-to-day, depending on the weather, and we're not going to move until we can give the fans the experience they deserve."
Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership Inc., is moving swiftly in Salisbury.
"The plan is to start construction there in July," Kirk said. "The architects and engineers are working away."
Kirk's alternate plan, a Single-A South Atlantic League franchise on the Eastern Shore, will be placed into motion if Rochester overcomes the final hurdle (a $15 million appropriation from New York state) to its new stadium.
The Rochester Community Baseball board of directors has signed a 20-year lease with Monroe County, leaving state funding as the roadblock to a $37 million stadium project downtown.
If Rochester succeeds, that would sidetrack any chance Kirk has of landing the Triple-A Orioles franchise for a Maryland site (probably Bowie).
Single-A Frederick Keys first baseman Billy Owens never has met Eddie Murray, but that hasn't stopped him from adopting Murray as his idol.
They have a lot in common. Both are Californians. Both are switch-hitters. Both are respected batters at their levels.
"I saw Eddie play on television one day, and that's when I decided to become a switch-hitter," Owens said. "I've patterned my game after his."
Owens, a third-round draft choice in 1992, was the Orioles' organization Player of the Month for April after batting .309 with eight homers and 22 RBIs.
He has tailed off lately, but his 10 homers are only one short of his total for all of 1993.
A lot of refinement is necessary in Owens' defensive game, but he is improving at first base.
"He's starting to understand what he has to do defensively," said Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin. "We just don't want him to get into a DH mentality."
Shane Turner, who played in four games with the 1991 Orioles, has signed a Rochester contract. He was released by the Phoenix Firebirds, the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A club. . . . Since being hit on the temple by a batted ball, Brad Pennington has pitched five innings of no-hit ball for Rochester. . . . Brian DuBois has fallen on hard times with the Red Wings. In his past two starts, he has a 32.43 ERA and didn't get out of the first inning in one of them. DuBois is winless in four decisions. . . . The Red Wings are in a horrendous batting slump. In six straight games, they totaled 10 runs and hit .196. As a result they went on an eight-game losing streak and fell to 13 1/2 games out of first place. . . . Outfielder Clayton Byrne, who played for the Orioles in the exhibition game at Rochester last week, has been promoted from Frederick for a temporary Triple-A stay. . . . Bowie's bullpen underwent a two-week span in which it was 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and averaged more than a walk an inning. Armando Benitez, a prime prospect, walked 17 in his first 11 1/3 innings. . . . The Baysox are batting .139 against the past six left-handed starters they have faced. . . . Edgar Alfonzo had a 10-game hitting streak, but Alex Ochoa slumped badly over 15 games, batting .121. . . . Frederick's Garrett Stephenson missed a start because of back spasms and was day-to-day. Matt Jarvis took his spot in the rotation. Stephenson had a 4.54 ERA, but also 49 strikeouts in his first 33 2/3 innings.