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Pitchers: Yards' fences are closer than marked


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A recent column written by John Steadman of The Evening Sun has been a hot topic of conversation among Orioles pitchers, who were not surprised at Steadman's findings.

Steadman, collaborating with Orioles public relations director and team dentist Dr. Charles Steinberg, measured the fences at Camden Yards and found the dimensions to right-center and left-center field, plus straightaway center to be inaccurate by as much as 10 feet.

The fences are not as long as advertised, according to Steadman, who measured the dimensions with a device similar to those used by construction workers.

According to the Steadman-Steinberg study, 364 to left-center is either 352 or 354. Center field, advertised as 410, is either 397 or 400. And right-center is 362 or 363, rather than 373. (Steadman and Steinberg both measured the fences, which accounts for the slight differences.)

"We've been saying those dimensions aren't right since they built the stadium," Ben McDonald said. "We should hire some professional surveyors, have them measure the fences, then post the accurate ditances."

Mike Mussina had fun with the discrepancies.

"If they don't move the fences back, I'm leaving when I'm up for free agency and I'm taking him with me," he said, pointing to McDonald. "I'm going to go out there with a camcorder and a tape measure and measure them myself. Trade me and Ben for three more hitters who normally hit five home runs and they'll hit 20."

Mussina even thought of an opportune time to measure the fences.

"In between the day-night doubleheader and we can sell tickets to that, too," he said. "It's easier to pitch at Coors Field [the Colorado Rockies' home starting in 1995] than our place, even though it's a mile above sea level."

Going into last night's start at Anaheim Stadium, Mussina had allowed four home runs in 53 2/3 innings on the road and 12 home runs in 86 1/3 innings at home.

As a team, the Orioles have allowed 58 home runs in 48 home games and had allowed 50 home runs in 40 road games.

The Orioles have hit 68 home runs in 48 home games and had hit 48 homers in 40 road games.

Rafael Palmeiro, a .359 hitter with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs at Oriole Park, would hate to see anything about the ballpark change.

Proving he has a knack for politics, he found a way of appeasing Mussina.

"If you are a good pitcher like Mike Mussina, it shouldn't matter where you are pitching," Palmeiro said, pointing to Mussina. "He's so good he could pitch at a Little League park."

Catcher Chris Hoiles is judged not only by his home run totals but by the performance of the team's pitchers, which makes him the closest to being unbiased as anyone.

"That doesn't surprise me," Hoiles said of the study. "I think it's still a legitimate ballpark. You've still got to hit it to get it out of there. I've seen a lot of hard hit balls I thought were going out that just die. You've got to hit it hard to get it out of there."

Reynolds not ready to retire

California Angels second baseman Harold Reynolds, who spent last season with the Orioles, disputed a report that said he is contemplating retirement.

"I'm better off sitting on the bench in Anaheim than my couch in Corvallis, Ore.," Reynolds said.

Reynolds does want to be traded and was hopeful of returning to the Seattle Mariners until they called up shortstop Alex Rodriguez and moved Felix Fermin to second.

Reynolds has started four times since June 16. "It's very frustrating, especially when the team is losing and I know I can contribute," Reynolds said. "Everybody has a chance to win a job but me."

Bats stay hot

In the 16 games heading into last night's, the Orioles hit .308, averaged 7.1 runs per game and reached double figures in hits 11 times.

They are fourth in the majors with 116 home runs, behind Detroit (129), Seattle (125) and Cleveland (117). Since June 5, they are first in the majors with 58.

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