Orioles head groundskeeper Paul Zwaska, in an effort to quiet the controversy swirling around the accuracy of the dimensions of the Camden Yards outfield fences, measured them himself yesterday afternoon and found them to be accurate to within a foot.
"If people don't want to believe me, I'll take everything back out and measure them again in front of the players and the media if they want," Zwaska said.
Zwaska's findings, with marked distance listed first, his measurements second: Left-field foul line: (333, 333); left-field power alley: (364, 364); left of center, the deepest part of the park: (410, 409); straightaway center (unmarked, 400); right-field power alley (373, 374); and right-field foul line (318, 318).
Lockout rumor 'bizarre'
Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Paul Molitor, a member of the players union's executive board, said he heard a rumor of an owners lockout scheduled for tomorrow from a teammate who had heard it from his agent.
The Orioles heard the rumor from Molitor and thought enough of it that assistant player representative Jim Poole called union chief Donald Fehr.
Fehr summed up the rumor in one word, according to Poole.
"Bizarre," he said.
Said Molitor: "It would surprise me at this point, but I'm sure if they wanted to they could find a way to convince the public it was the right thing to do. They're good at that."
Molitor saw one subtle drawback in a lockout by the owners tomorrow.
"Guess Cal will have to wait until next year for 2,000," he joked of Ripken's 2,000th consecutive game, set for tomorrow in Minneapolis.
Rhodes probable tomorrow
Ben McDonald (12-6, 4.24) opposes Toronto's Juan Guzman (10-10, 5.78) in today's series finale.
The probables for the series in Minnesota, which starts tomorrow and extends through Wednesday: Arthur Rhodes (1-5, 8.83) vs. Pat Mahomes (8-4, 5.06); Mike Mussina (14-5, 3.24) vs. Carlos Pulido (3-6, 5.66); and Sid Fernandez (6-6, 5.09) vs. Kevin Tapani (9-7, 4.82).
Rhodes was pulled after two innings of his Friday night start in Syracuse, N.Y., in preparation for a start tomorrow in Minnesota.
Unless the Orioles acquire a pitcher in a trade, Rhodes will start against the Twins.
Around the horn
High school players will get another chance to try their luck at Camden Yards when the Crown All-Star game, postponed June 19 because of rain, is continued today at approximately 5:15 p.m. following the Orioles-Blue Jays game. . . . Chris Hoiles was given the night off to rest his sore knees and a mildly strained groin. . . . The Orioles and Detroit Tigers are the only teams without a shutout. The Orioles never have gone this far into a season (101 games) without pitching a shutout. The previous longest drought at the start of a season was 60 games in 1960. Over their history, the Orioles have averaged 7.45 shutouts in the first 100 games of the season.