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Mariners' Converse seems to be in wrong place at wrong time


Call it bad luck. Call it bad timing.

Seattle pitcher Jim Converse, who is most recognizable from the transactions list, makes his second start of the season against the hot-hitting Orioles tonight at Camden Yards.

Converse has been sent down to Triple-A Calgary three times and has been recalled three times in the season. The 22-year-old rookie right-hander has a 9.42 earned-run average and opponents are batting .344 against him.

With less than two months of major-league service, Converse must try to contain the Orioles, who have hit 13 home runs and scored 33 runs in their past four games. Leo Gomez has hit four homers in those four games, including two yesterday.

In that same span, the Orioles have hit .295 (39-for-132) as a team. Their club slugging percentage has risen 11 points to .449.

That's the way opponents have been teeing off on Converse.

Converse has allowed 15 runs and 21 hits in 14 1/3 innings that have come mainly in relief. In his only start, Converse gave up five runs on five hits in a 4 1/3 -inning no-decision vs. Chicago.

In 34 2/3 innings, Converse has walked 31 while striking out 19. He walked six of the 24 batters he faced in his only start.

Converse was once among the Mariners' top pitching prospects. He struck out 194 in 196 2/3 innings over two seasons (1991-92) in Double-A.

After winning 12 games and posting a 2.66 ERA with Double-A Jacksonville in 1992, Converse went 7-8 with a 5.40 ERA in Calgary the next season. Even with that mediocre year, Converse did crack the major leagues that season.

Converse struck out seven and walked one in his major-league debut on May 22, 1993, against Kansas City. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits but lost 4-1.

Converse was optioned back to Calgary six days later. That's when he became a frequent flier on the Calgary-to-Seattle shuttle with five options and four recalls.

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