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Team to return to Fort Lauderdale But search continues for major, minor site for spring training

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Orioles will return to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for spring training next year, vice chairman of finance Joe Foss said yesterday, but club officials will continue trying to find a permanent site where the major- and minor-league players can train together.

"It'll be the same situation as we had last year," Foss said. "We're still examining long-term options."

The Orioles trained in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Fla., until last year, when the major-league team moved to Fort Lauderdale. The minor-leaguers continued to train at the Twin Lakes facility in Sarasota, and ultimately, the Orioles want to have both groups together so that the major-league staff can see the young prospects readily.

The Orioles have talked to Fort Lauderdale officials about providing facilities that would enable the major- and minor-leaguers to train together, and they've spoken to representatives from other cities, as well. One attractive alternative would be for the Orioles to assume the Sarasota training site the White Sox intend to vacate.

"We're trying to see if we can get more American League clubs," Foss said, "so we can use the designated hitter more and get more at-bats."

Parent wants to return

Mark Parent will find out today whether he has cleared waivers, and according to a league source, Parent has contacted the Orioles and let them know he wants to rejoin the team he played for in 1992 and 1993.

The Orioles, who have only two catchers with major-league experience in Chris Hoiles and Cesar Devarez, and Devarez has limited time in the majors. Should the Orioles lose either Hoiles or Devarez to injury -- and catchers get hurt often -- the next in line would be B. J. Waszgis. The lack of experienced depth would become even more critical if the Orioles were to lose Hoiles going into postseason play.

The Orioles might have claimed Parent off waivers, a move that would have cost them approximately one-fifth of the $500,000 contract he signed with the Detroit Tigers. If they choose to wait for him to clear waivers, risking the possibility somebody else would claim him, the Orioles could sign him for the final month at the cost of about $20,000. Reliever Armando Benitez threw for manager Davey Johnson yesterday and is likely to be activated from the disabled list today or tomorrow.

Benitez has been on the DL since May with elbow problems and finished his Triple-A rehabilitation stint Friday. Nerio Rodriguez is the most likely player to be sent down.

"I wanted to make sure [Benitez] was free and easy, and he was," Johnson said. "I gave the OK to [general manager] Pat [Gillick] and now it's up to him. I told [Gillick] I'd like to have him. . . . I'll try to get his feet wet without getting him scorched."

F. Robinson on 500

Former Orioles great Frank Robinson can sympathize with Eddie Murray's pursuit of 500 career homers.

Murray has been stuck at 498 homers for a week. Robinson is following Murray's progress and remembers when he was in a similar situation. When Robinson was stuck at 498, he took advantage of a doubleheader and homered in each game to reach 500.

"Everybody thinks about it when they get that close," Robinson said. "The guy who did it before me was Harmon Killebrew, and I knew he struggled to hit the big one. It took him awhile. My thing was, I just wanted to hit it and get it over with. You're relieved after you get it. There's not too much pressure coming up to it, but once you get really close, oh yeah, there's pressure."

Robinson, fourth all time with 586 homers, said a pennant race helped take the individual pressure off him to hit his 500th home run, which Robinson believes is helping Murray as well. But when Robinson hit No. 499, he said, he knew when the next one was coming.

"I hit the first one and told the clubhouse guy to get the JTC champagne ready," Robinson said. "But I waited it out until my last at-bat of the second game. Most of the fans had left. They didn't think I'd get up again. Thankfully, I got another chance, but if I didn't get it that night, I don't know when I would've got it."

Coppinger on the run

Orioles starter Rocky Coppinger said he still was feeling the effects of running a little over three miles for charity on Saturday morning.

Coppinger ran the race in 25 minutes and said he saved his last burst of energy for the end, when he sprinted past some trash-talking racers who were kidding him about his size (6 feet 5, 250 pounds).

Around the horn

Outfielder Tony Tarasco played his first rehab game for the Single-A Frederick Keys yesterday, after playing two games for Rookie-level Sarasota. Tarasco also was placed on the 15-day DL and is a possible call-up when rosters expand in September, and he is eligible for the Orioles' postseason roster. . . . Former manager and coach Cal Ripken Sr., former coach Billy Hunter and former owner Jerry Hoffberger were inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame before yesterday's game. . . . Pitcher Alan Mills, whose wife was due to have a baby a week ago, said, "I predict [today] will be the day."

Hits and misses

On the field: The game was effectively over when Randy Velarde hit a grand slam off Scott Erickson in the fourth inning, but the Orioles' bullpen did nothing to give the Orioles a chance to stay in the game. Esteban Yan gave up five hits and three runs in 1 1/3 innings, and Nerio Rodriguez allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings.

In the dugout: With the Orioles completely out of the game by the bottom of the fourth inning, manager Davey Johnson gave playing time to his seldom-used reserves, replacing second baseman Roberto Alomar with Bill Ripken and shortstop Cal Ripken with Manny Alexander. Alexander batted for the first time since Aug. 6 and popped out (he has one hit in his past 27 at-bats, one hit since June 11).

In the clubhouse: Bobby Bonilla said this is not the time for scoreboard watching. "Once you get into September," Bonilla said, "that's when you watch it." Check back in about five days.

Pub Date: 8/26/96

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