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Slider helps Benitez make fast work of Sox in return


In his first appearance since giving up a grand slam and nearly starting a bench-clearing brawl, Armando Benitez returned to Camden Yards last night -- and did not pitch his way into any controversy.

Benitez -- who was called up with right-hander Jimmy Myers on Thursday from Triple-A Rochester -- struck out two and walked one in his eighth-inning appearance.

"I thought he threw the ball well. [His fastball] was clocked at 92-93 miles per hour," Orioles manager Phil Regan said.

But it wasn't Benitez's fastball that enabled him to have a good outing, it was his confidence in his slider. Benitez struck out Jose Canseco to start off the eighth inning on a 1-and-2 slider.

"He threw a couple of them," Regan said. "That's good that he had confidence in that pitch."

Benitez gained that confidence at Rochester, where he was 1-0 with three saves, a 0.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings since being demoted June 8.

The night before his demotion, Benitez nearly cleared the benches when he hit Seattle's Tino Martinez with a pitch, one batter after Edgar Martinez had a hit a grand slam. An angry Benitez cleared out his locker after leaving the game.

First baseman Rafael Palmeiro wants to make sure such an incident doesn't happen again.

Shortly after Benitez arrived yesterday and put his things in a locker next to third base coach Steve Boros, Palmeiro told Benitez, "You can be near me."

Palmeiro moved Benitez's nameplate to a locker next to hitting coach Lee May's and three lockers away from Palmeiro's. Then he picked up clothes hangers, T-shirts and uniforms belonging to Benitez and put them in his new locker.

Myers gets surprise

Myers, called up from Rochester with Benitez, was caught by surprise. He figured if he pitched well he might join the Orioles in September. September came in June for the right-hander, who was 0-1 with six saves, a 1.44 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings for the Red Wings.

Myers, who has spent time in the Giants, Royals and Pirates organizations, received the news Thursday from Rochester manager Marv Foley. Except that Myers didn't believe it was Foley because his caller-identification system identified Foley's number as belonging to Thomas Columbo.

"I thought somebody was fooling with me," Myers said.

Foley was renting the house from Columbo, and he finally convinced Myers that he was going to Baltimore.

Congrats from Uncle Rick

Greg Zaun spoke with his uncle, Rick Dempsey, yesterday morning -- three days after appropriating Dempsey's No. 24 and one day after Dempsey called to try to congratulate his nephew on his promotion to the Orioles.

Zaun reached Dempsey -- the manager of the the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, N.M. -- in Vancouver, British Columbia. "He told me to work hard, keep my mouth shut and do what they tell me to do," Zaun said. "Basically, congratulations."

Since he's managing on the West Coast, Dempsey won't get much of a chance to see Zaun play. "I've got to make the highlights on ESPN," Zaun said. "I've got to do something good to get on TV."

Around the horn

An irate Boston fan hit Mike Greenwell in the head with a souvenir Red Sox batting helmet after Greenwell struck out looking to end the game. The Red Sox players began yelling at the group of Boston fans, and the group was escorted out of the ballpark. . . . The Red Sox are considering calling up former Orioles shortstop Juan Bell from Triple-A Pawtucket. Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy expressed the need for a backup shortstop, especially after Terry Shumpert made an error that led to a run in the first inning last night while replacing John Valentin. . . . Second baseman Manny Alexander was not in the lineup last night -- not that he hasn't played well, but Bret Barberie had not started since June 4. Alexander has hit .302 with eight runs, three doubles and three stolen bases in his past 15 games.


Baltimore fans who responded to a Sundial call-in telephone survey overwhelmingly opposed the city's near ban on individuals selling Orioles tickets near Camden Yards. Three callers were in favor of the restriction, and 164 said people who have Orioles tickets should be able to sell them anywhere they like.

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