With Alexander thriving, Barberie ponders future


DETROIT -- Bret Barberie, acquired from the Florida Marlins in an off-season trade to be the regular second baseman, may never win that job back from Manny Alexander.

This could well be his only year with the Orioles, too, because his salary -- nearly $1 million -- makes him an expensive reserve.

Whom does Bret Barberie blame?

Bret Barberie.

"I feel bad," he said. "I feel like I let some people down. . . . They brought me in here to play. They're not paying me the kind of money they're paying me to sit on the bench. I wasn't doing the job when I was in there."

Barberie was hitting .267 through June 4, with just two RBIs, and had looked shaky on defense. Alexander was inserted in his place the next day, and Barberie has started one game since.

"I don't think it's right in my situation to express bitterness," Barberie said. "I would be unfair to the team. You don't want one bad apple to spoil the the team. I don't want to be greedy and say who should play.

"Manny's done a pretty good job. I'm pulling for the guy. I've been in his situation, and I hope he does the job. I hope that they don't have to go out and get somebody else to do the job. He's paid his dues in this organization, and he deserves a chance."

Barberie has been encouraging Alexander. "He'll have a bad game," Barberie said, "and he'll say, 'You're in there [tomorrow], you're in there.' I say, 'Don't say that.' He wants this job."

During the last homestand, Barberie noticed that a bump on his right thumb hadn't receded since he was jammed by a pitch from the Chicago White Sox's Jim Abbott in spring training. He asked a club doctor, who happened to be walking by, to take a look at it, and they decided to have it X-rayed.

Orioles manager Phil Regan said yesterday that the X-ray revealed a broken bone that has since healed; the bump is a bone spur.

+ Barberie never said a word.

Pitching possibilities

The Orioles haven't set their rotation for the three-game series against the New York Yankees, but it likely will go something like this:

* Jamie Moyer will pitch Monday.

* Arthur Rhodes will be called up from Triple-A Rochester to pitch Tuesday's game (with Scott Klingenbeck being sent down to make room for Rhodes on the roster).

* Ben McDonald will start Wednesday. This will enable the Orioles to throw two left-handers against the Yankees.

Dual purpose

Regan played Matt Nokes last night, serving two purposes. First, he wanted to get as many left-handed bats in the lineup as possible. Second, Regan wanted to get slumping catcher Chris Hoiles another day off "to clear his head."

Hoiles is hitting .195, and Regan agreed that Hoiles is pressing, perhaps, in part, because of the five-year, $17.25 million contract he signed during spring training.

"I think he knows he's important to us," Regan said. "If he gets going, he takes a lot of pressure off the other hitters. Let's face it, we need him. It is almost July.

"He works hard, he's conscientious. He's got integrity. He wants

to do well, and he wants the team to do well."

Van Slyke in right

Andy Van Slyke, activated off the 15-day disabled list yesterday, was in the lineup last night in right field -- the first time he has played that position since 1987.

"The idea is to make the best possible team you can, and if that means me playing right field, center field, left field, not playing, pinch-hitting or pinch-running, I'm fine with it," Van Slyke said.

"The only thing I've ever wanted to do was win ballgames, and if that means not playing, I've done that before. If it means playing every day, I've done that."

To make room for Van Slyke, catcher Cesar Devarez was sent to Triple-A Rochester. He appeared in four games and was 0-for-2.

Around the horn

When Cal Ripken grounded into a double play in the first inning, it was the first time he had done so this season in 172 at-bats. . . . Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez was scheduled to throw on the side last night at Double-A Bowie and will pitch in tomorrow's game. He could be pitching for the Baysox for several weeks; the Orioles want to see him pitch deeper into ballgames, and pitch more effectively. "I'd like to see him throw six or seven innings at some point," said Regan. . . . . Van Slyke said he enjoyed his three days in the minors, although he didn't draw the full complement of experience from the assignment. Playing for Frederick on Wednesday night, Van Slyke walked twice (one of which was intentional) and was hit by a pitch.


On the field: In the top of the eighth inning, Tigers pitcher John Doherty threw a fastball that eluded catcher Ron Tingley and hit plate umpire Jim McKean directly on the right elbow, immediately raising a massive welt. McKean left for X-rays, and the game was delayed 13 minutes while second base umpire Vic Voltaggio changed into his protective equipment to finish the game in McKean's place.

In the dugout: Before the year's out, Orioles manager Phil Regan actually may use the same lineup on consecutive days again, but right now, he's tinkering. Harold Baines was moved from sixth to fifth in the order last night, Jeff Manto moved from seventh to sixth, and Andy Van Slyke hit seventh and played right field and Jeffrey Hammonds sat.

In the clubhouse: When Ben McDonald walked Travis Fryman with one out in the second inning, Regan went to the mound and started jawing at McDonald and catcher Matt Nokes. McDonald settled down, throwing five shutout innings. "I mentioned to him that he needed to be more aggressive," Regan said. "I thought he was. He took that challenge and really went after them."

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