This story can be titled either "Gresham's Travels" or, in an autobiographical sense, "My Grand Tour of the Oriole Farm System." Talk about moving around. Kris Gresham, a military brat growing up, has cornered the market.
In early April, with the 40-man Orioles roster at a delayed spring training, Gresham, previously a backup, began the season as the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings' starting catcher.
When the major-leaguers broke camp in late April, he was assigned to the Double-A Bowie Baysox, where catcher B. J. Waszgis had been earmarked for everyday play.
After a few rather inactive weeks with the Baysox, Gresham was shifted to the High Desert Mavericks of the Single-A California League, where he could play regularly.
Then, when Cesar Devarez was called up to the Orioles two weeks ago, Gresham was returned to Rochester as the backup for Greg Zaun.
L Try to get an apartment lease with that two-month itinerary.
Gresham said his "family wandered around a lot when I was a kid. My dad was in the Marine Corps and we moved across the country eight times."
But here's the rub. Until his first assignment in Rochester this season, Gresham had done almost all his traveling by land.
"I had never really flown before and [Jeff] Huson had to take me under his wing because I was real nervous before the flight to Norfolk," Gresham said. "Then I went across the country in a plane twice in less than a month."
High Desert was the most interesting stop.
"I didn't like going out there, but I understood. I got a chance to play and showcase myself," said Gresham. "I remember going the first time and for miles, there was no field, no trees, nothing but desert. It was in the middle of nowhere. We were driving to work and all of a sudden a stadium popped up. It was weird."
Gresham said he has accumulated a lot of frequent-flier miles but "they're on different airlines. I'm going to have to work out a way to get them on one."
His travels reflect what has happened in the Orioles' system, where player development director Syd Thrift wants the hands "to forget about the classification and go where they can play."
Gresham said: "We've already had more player moves than all of last year. I guess I'm leading that league."
Bartee probably out 2 months
The Baysox's outfield looks more like a hospital with Kim Bartee out for probably two months with a fractured hand and T. R. Lewis, Jim Wawruck and Jose Millares all nursing nagging injuries.
Andy Van Slyke's presence on an injury rehabilitation brought welcome relief to Bowie, which was forced to play first baseman Jason Friedman in left field last week.
The loss of Bartee, a Curtis Goodwin-type prospect, is particularly damaging. Bartee underwent an operation on his left hand Friday after breaking it while attempting to make a diving catch.
Wawruck is trying to overcome shoulder and hand problems, Lewis has a strained quadriceps and hasn't played since May 27 and Millares has a pulled leg muscle that continually has forced him out of the lineup.
The Orioles continue to pay for having two high-level Single-A teams.
The Frederick Keys of the Carolina League entered last night with a 24-38 record and had clinched last place during first-half play in its division.
High Desert had a 21-43 record and also was last in its division.
Players have been shifted from one spot to the other without much success and the Keys have lost their best pitcher, Rocky Coppinger, promoted to Bowie.
Around the horn
Rochester's seven-game winning streak was followed by a five-game losing streak. The Richmond Braves won the final three of a five-game series at Silver Stadium, marking the first time the Red Wings have dropped a home series this year. . . . Center fielder Damon Buford has five steals since being sent down and has 69 during his Red Wings career, three short of second on the franchise's all-time list. . . . John Dettmer, acquired this spring from the Texas Rangers for Jack Voigt, lost Friday as an emergency starter for Scott Klingenbeck, who was called up to the Orioles. Dettmer is 0-3 at Rochester after going 35-7 as a minor-leaguer beforehand. . . . Armando Benitez did not give up a run in his first two appearances. . . . Zaun had four homers in a six-game span. He had a career-high seven all last season. . . .
Three Bowie players, manager Bob Miscik and pitching coach Chris Lein were ejected from a game at Binghamton one night, then Kim Batiste was ejected the next night, just before Bartee broke his hand. . . . Utility player George Virgilio, released by the Montreal Expos' system May 16, signed with the Orioles and is on the Baysox's roster. . . . Coppinger was hit hard and lost his second start, against the New Haven Ravens, but he was suffering from a strep throat. . . . The Baysox went 2-8 on their longest road trip, losing the last seven and hitting into 17 double plays along the way. Bowie has given up the most homers in the Eastern League (54) and hit the fewest (26). . . .
Frederick received three players from High Desert, infielder Angel Pagan, outfielder Rolando Avila and catcher Jairo Cabrera. Outfielder Clayton Byrne, who started the season at Bowie, was sent to the Mavericks. . . . Tommy Davis' 21 errors lead all minor-league third basemen.