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Sabo was turned down on offer to go to minors


The minor leagues are full of players clamoring to get to the major leagues. The Orioles have a major-league player clamoring to get to the minors.

The Chris Sabo saga grows stranger by the minute.

Sabo, benched in favor of Leo Gomez, said yesterday that he requested a week ago that the Orioles send him to the minor leagues, where he could play on a daily basis.

"It would be a good test to see if I can play anymore," Sabo said. "Playing two weeks straight would be a good test for my back. Obviously, the way Leo is playing, I'm not going to play every day here."

As Sabo views it, a demotion to the minors would serve all parties concerned.

"The Orioles could call up a guy who's used to playing on the bench," he said. "Obviously, no team is going to trade for me unless they see me play for an extended period of time. Teams can see me play and decide if they want me. I thought it was a good idea, but they didn't want to do it."

No, they did not.

"That's not the direction we want to take right now," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said.

If Sabo did go to the minors, the Montreal Expos are one team that would scout him. The Expos, in the market for a third #F baseman, are well aware of Sabo's availability.

Sabo is in the midst of a one-year, $2 million contract. If he remains a reserve, he would not have much bargaining power in the coming season.

He did not play in last night's lineup. Instead of playing Sabo at third and Gomez at first, Orioles manager Johnny Oates opted to play Gomez at third and Jack Voigt at first in place of injured Rafael Palmeiro.

O's remain interested in Gant

Free-agent outfielder Ron Gant has visited Cincinnati and Boston and has been looked at by the teams' physicians, who said Gant could play within a month. Gant suffered a broken leg in a motocross accident in February.

The Orioles have been in contact with Gant's agent, Eric Goldschmidt.

"Goldschmidt thought he still had a few days before he could start running," Hemond said. "He'll get back to us when [Gant] is ready to run."

Ingrown toenail KOs Palmeiro

Palmeiro did not start last night, his second nonstart of the season and first because of an injury.

Palmeiro, limping throughout Friday night's loss because of an ingrown toenail (big toe of his left foot), had it removed before the game, was available for pinch-hitting but wasn't used.

L "I wouldn't want to miss more than one game," Palmeiro said.

Orioles saving hits for games

The Orioles have bypassed batting practice in their past four day games. They have gone 4-0 and averaged 7.75 runs.

"There is nothing wrong with a change in the routine sometimes," hitting coach Greg Biagini said. "It gives them a chance to relax a little before the game after getting out of the ballpark late the night before."

The Orioles will put their day-game, no-batting practice success on the line today when rookie Mike Oquist (1-1, 4.08) makes his second major-league start and opposes Alex Fernandez (5-6, 3.33).

Brady scoring runs

Brady Anderson is batting .230 and he has 37 strikeouts, but the one statistic most important to leadoff hitters suggests Anderson has had his value offensively.

Anderson has scored 34 runs in 52 games, putting him on a pace to score a personal-best 106 runs.

"For any player scoring 100 runs is the standard for excellence," said Anderson, who had exactly that many in 1992. "It looks good

on the back of your baseball card."


Jeffrey Hammonds, on the disabled list with a strained medial collateral ligament of his right knee, is tentatively scheduled to leave for extended spring training in Florida tomorrow and perhaps begin hitting late in the week. Hammonds could return to the Orioles' lineup as soon as June 13, when the Orioles open a four-game home series against the New York Yankees. . . . White Sox manager Gene Lamont and Orioles scouting director Gary Nickels played basketball for rival high schools in Illinois, and they faced each other in organized baseball leagues, Nickels a left-handed pitcher, Lamont a catcher who, after his college career, was drafted ahead of Johnny Bench.

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