Carpentry gives Bolton a future to build on


Orioles reliever Tom Bolton is deft with sandpaper, but there is no need for American League umpires to make note of this. Bolton isn't cheating when he has sandpaper in his hands; he's crafting.

"Only when it's hooked up to a machine," Bolton said. "I do nothing by hand."

Bolton honed his carpentry skills at an early age, spending much of his free time working in the family kitchen cabinet shop at his house in Nashville, Tenn. He continued to work in that area through several off-seasons.

"I never had a summer vacation," said Bolton, one of six children. "If you weren't old enough to handle the tools, you could always grab a broom and sweep up the sawdust."

Bolton's father, who established the shop, died in 1983. His brothers kept it going, and Bolton remains open to returning to that line of work when his curveball rolls more often than it breaks.

"When this career is over, I might go back to it," Bolton said. "That's the only other thing I've ever known."

If the players strike, Bolton could always return to Nashville and help his brothers build kitchen cabinets.

Come to think of it, perhaps the Orioles' players should not scatter their own ways during the strike. They might have the makings of a home improvement television show.

For the first episode, the Orioles could remodel a kitchen.

Bolton could craft the cabinets and install them. Mike Oquist, an accomplished plumber, could install the sink and dishwasher. Utility player Jack Voigt could take care of the utilities.

Only in America

Upbeat Leo Gomez, a native of Puerto Rico, has a pet phrase he utters daily: "Only in America."

He often follows it up with something along the lines of, "It's a beautiful country, isn't it?"

Gomez lists a half dozen of his favorite things about life in the United States.

1. "You can do anything you want."

2. "Communication. Better communication. From here, you can call anybody you want to call."

3. "Transportation. Cars, trains, airplanes. Scared of flying? You can drive your car."

4. "Food. Anything you want. All kinds of food. Latin food. American food. Japanese. Chinese. You don't have to eat hamburgers every day if you don't want to."

5. "Easy to find a job. The United States is so big if you can't find a job in Baltimore, you can go somewhere else and find a job."

6. "Money. You can make more money here than in Puerto Rico."

A Homer to beat all homers

Chris Hoiles leads the Orioles with 17 home runs. So, which of the 17 is his favorite homer?

None of them. Hoiles' favorite Homer is the only one he never hits.

The catcher has a picture of his dog Homer, a black Labrador retriever, on top of his locker.

"That's my all-time favorite Homer," Hoiles said, pointing to the picture. "Black labs are great dogs."

Homer is this man's best friend.

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