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Goodwin gets taste of big-league success


Curtis Goodwin grabbed his first big-league tuna fish sandwich before making his debut yesterday as the Orioles' starting center fielder and leadoff man.

After arriving in Baltimore at 2:30 a.m. from Triple-A Rochester, Goodwin hadn't slept much and hadn't eaten much, and his head hadn't stopped spinning.

"I'm still kind of shocked," Goodwin said. "I walked into the stadium and I walked backed out. It's kind of hard to sleep and eat right now."

But not too hard for him to succeed.

Goodwin singled to right in his first big-league at-bat, stole second for his first big-league stolen base and scored on Rafael Palmeiro's double for his first big-league run.

He also singled in his second at-bat. Later, in the eighth, he dragged a sacrifice bunt up the first-base line, moving the winning run into scoring position in the Orioles' 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

"Today was like a dream come true," said Goodwin.

The 22-year-old center fielder was recalled from Rochester yesterday along with catcher Cesar Devarez. The Orioles made room for them by demoting Damon Buford to Rochester and putting Andy Van Slyke (strained left forearm) on the 15-day disabled list.

It was not easy for Goodwin to leave close friend and fellow blue-chip outfielding prospect Alex Ochoa behind in Rochester. Ochoa was with Goodwin when the center fielder heard the good news.

"He said, 'I don't want to see you back here.' I said, 'I want to see you up there,' " Goodwin said.

"We always thought we'd go up together."

Actually, Goodwin had gotten a taste of big-league action 12 years earlier. He shagged fly balls with the Texas Rangers at the Oakland Coliseum when he was 10. Goodwin's mother, Arterlia, was good friends with Rangers outfielder Mickey Rivers.

Rivers went to Goodwin's Little League game that afternoon, then took Goodwin into the Rangers' locker room and out on the field.

Goodwin got a baseball signed by then-Texas Rangers and current Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart.

"I have to introduce myself to him again. I haven't see him since," Goodwin said of Stewart. "It'll probably make him feel old."

Try ancient.

"If he was 10 years old, tell him don't tell nobody," said Stewart, 38, who didn't remember giving Goodwin an autograph. "He probably was a good kid if I signed for him."

Goodwin remembers. He also remembered A's outfielder Rickey Henderson, who is now 38 and out with a sore left shoulder, turning down his autograph request.

It was fitting that Goodwin made his debut against the A's: He grew up watching -- and idolizing -- Henderson.

Back in Oakland, Goodwin's mother threw a party in Curtis' honor. Family and friends listened to the game on radio. Goodwin's mother vowed to fly to Baltimore this weekend, along with her famous cowbell she brings to her son's games. His grandfather, a big A's fan who will remain in Oakland, confessed to his mixed allegiances. "He said, 'I hope you win, son, but I have to root for the home team,' " Goodwin said.

Goodwin won yesterday. The fans gave him a standing ovation after his first major-league hit. The ball sat above Goodwin in his locker afterward as he talked to reporters.

"I'm going to frame it up," Goodwin said. "I wish I could have the base, too."

He had a great day. Goodwin's line in his first big-league game: 2-for-3, two singles, one stolen base, one sacrifice and one run scored.

He plans on having many more games like this one.

"I'm going to do what I do best, try to become a superstar," Goodwin said, no longer sounding like a nervous, sandwich-eating rookie. "I'm going to put on a show every night I play."

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