OAKLAND, Calif. -- He still lives in Columbia. He still earns a living playing baseball. He still is a utility player.
Not much has changed for Jack Voigt, really. Not much except that until yesterday morning he was in the major leagues and now he's in the Eastern League.
The Orioles optioned Voigt to Double-A Bowie yesterday, the same day they told Lonnie Smith his left knee had recovered. Voigt was optioned to make room for Smith, who spent three weeks on the disabled list with what was called a strained left knee.
"I would be lying if I said I was happy to get a chance to play every day," Voigt said. "I feel I'm a big-league player who can contribute at this level."
Voigt was given a choice between going to Triple-A Rochester or Double-A Bowie. He chose Bowie for personal and professional reasons.
"My feeling was Bowie would be a better place because it would be less disruptive for the organization," Voigt said.
Rochester rotates Sherman Obando, Damon Buford, Mark Smith and Jim Warwuck in the outfield.
From a personal standpoint, Bowie is far more convenient than Rochester because Voigt does not have to move out of the apartment he shares with his fiancee.
Voigt was recalled from Rochester on April 29, 1993, and had been in the major leagues ever since.
He hit .296 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 152 at-bats for the Orioles last season and was hitting .241 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 141 at-bats this season. Since Jeffrey Hammonds returned from the disabled list June 16, Voigt was used primarily as a defensive replacement in the outfield. He also was the backup first baseman.
His role at Bowie will be similar except that he will get more playing time. "I'll be in the outfield, at first base and third base," Voigt said. "Maybe I'll even catch in a blowout situation."
Voigt suspected he was on his way to the minors when Orioles manager Johnny Oates called him at his hotel room yesterday morning.
"Johnny called and asked if I could come up to his room and chat," Voigt said. "I kind of had a feeling something was up. I kind of had a feeling it wasn't to have coffee and doughnuts with him."
Voigt took the demotion well.
"I'm not going to ask to be traded, released or make waves in any way," Voigt said. "I like this organization. They've been very loyal to me."
Smith was on the active roster from the beginning of the season until he was placed on the DL July 1, retroactive to June 29. He had only 48 at-bats and was hitting .229.
Smith has been used sparingly as a designated hitter against some left-handed pitchers -- although Leo Gomez has filled that role more often lately -- and as a pinch runner.
Smith, 38, is trying to make it to his sixth World Series with his fifth different club.
He participated in full workouts while on the disabled list.
McDonald on schedule
Ben McDonald, who came out of his Thursday start when he suffered a cramp in his right forearm, will throw on the side today and is on course to make his next start in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians.
"I don't feel any more sore than normal the day after a start," said McDonald, who said he thought the cramp might have been brought on by dehydration. "I drank about two gallons of water last night."
Gomez at third; Sabo at DH
Gomez played third and Chris Sabo was the designated hitter last night, but the move didn't have anything to do with Sabo misplaying a ball that led to two Athletics runs in their 4-3 Thursday victory.
"We have a day game tomorrow, so I just thought I would use Sabo at DH and play Leo at third," Oates said. "They are very comparable in the field, but I prefer to play Leo at DH when they are in the lineup together. I'm not going to pinch run for Sabo and I will for Leo. It's easier to pinch run for your DH than your third baseman."
JOINING 10-K RACE
Thursday, Oakland's Ron Darling became the fourth pitcher this season to strike out 10 or more Orioles in a game:
Date ... Pitcher, Team ..... IP ... SO
4/30 ... R. Johnson, Sea .... 6 ... 11
5/14 ... S. Erickson, Min ... 7 2/3 .. 10
5/17 ... R. Clemens, Bos .... 8 ... 11
7/21 ... Darling, Oak ....... 8 ... 10