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Top catcher chooses Orioles over college ball


The Orioles signed second-round draft pick Charles Alley yesterday, scoring a small coup considering Alley had committed to play for the University of Florida.

Baseball America had rated the high school catcher from West Palm Beach, Fla., as the 17th-best player in this year's draft, but because he signed a letter of intent with Florida and was seen as a 50-50 shot to go pro, the Orioles were able to get him with the 51st pick.

The Orioles gave Alley a $325,000 signing bonus, but no other terms of the deal were announced.

The team's first-round pick, Nebraska pitcher Alvie Shepherd, is expected to sign in the next couple of days.

Alley spent the weekend working out with the Orioles and negotiating his deal.

"It's been great being at Camden Yards," Alley said. "I thought at first I would feel like an outsider, but the guys have been great. They made me feel like one of them."

Alley reports tomorrow to Sarasota of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Alley spent a lot of time this weekend with Orioles second baseman Bret Barberie, who used to play for the Florida Marlins, Alley's hometown team.

"He just told me how hard it is to get up here," Alley said. "But if I work hard enough, I know I can get back to Camden Yards."

Hoiles likely off DL today

Catcher Chris Hoiles is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list today. His strained left hamstring appears to be healed, and manager Phil Regan said Hoiles' rehabilitation is right on schedule.

"He's taken batting practice, he's throwing well and he's squatting well," Regan said. "His swing looks pretty smooth. We'll see how he is [today] before we make a move, but he's passed all the tests we've given him so far."

Krivda listens and learns

Rick Krivda finally got to watch a game from the Orioles' dugout. Krivda made his major-league debut July 7 in Chicago, but after striking out seven and yielding two runs in 5 2/3 innings, he was sent down to Triple-A Rochester.

Krivda returned Saturday and pitched 5 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox, giving up three runs. But with Ben McDonald on the DL, Krivda will get to stick around in the big leagues a bit longer.

"It was nice just sitting in the dugout and watching the game," Krivda said. "They have some real workhorses on this staff and I could learn so much just by keeping my mouth shut and watching them up here, or asking them about certain pitches."

The left-hander is scheduled to start Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Goodwin works on bunting

Curtis Goodwin spent Friday and Saturday working with third base coach Steve Boros on his craftsmanship with the bat.

Goodwin tried to bunt with runners on first and second and no one out in the third inning yesterday, but Chicago starter Jason Bere easily fielded the ball and threw the lead runner out at third. Goodwin also was unable to put a bunt into play with a runner on first and none out in Thursday's 2-1 loss to Texas.

"Bunting is a big part of my game," Goodwin said. "They've been throwing me a lot of breaking balls [in bunting situations]."

Boros said the speedy Goodwin, who is in a 7-for-48 slump, is pressing and trying to jump out of the box before making solid contact.

"The key is to make the first step a slow one. He was fine early, but he's pressuring himself as a bunter and a hitter," Boros said. "He's a much better bunter than what he's shown lately."

Regan saw improvement already.

"We got him to square up a little bit more and bunt toward third base instead of dragging everything down the first base side," Regan said. "He's done a good job with that. He's a very conscientious kid. He works very hard."

Goodwin said the slump, which has dropped his average from .363 to .306, is not affecting his play, although it has kept him out of the starting lineup three of the past four games.

"I don't feel like I'm in a slump," said Goodwin, who has reached the 50-hit plateau faster than any rookie in Orioles history. "It only takes one good at-bat to get it back. I'm not worried about it."

Gomez (ankle) is day-to-day

Third baseman Leo Gomez left yesterday's game in the sixth inning with a slight sprain in his left ankle and is day-to-day. Gomez said he feels no pain and there was no ice or treatment applied to his ankle after the game.

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