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Alomar marked man on ballot, too Booed by fans on road, second baseman still runs away with All-Star vote

Apparently, many of the same fans who continue to boo Roberto Alomar on the road also are punching his name on their All-Star ballots.

The first returns show Alomar leading all American League second basemen with 463,862 votes, 261,334 ahead of Minnesota's Chuck Knoblauch. That's the fourth-highest total in the AL, and it contradicts his image as one of baseball's most vilified players.

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Alomar has appeared in seven straight All-Star games, but didn't figure to be voted in this year after his altercation with umpire John Hirschbeck last September that led to a five-game suspension.

Not surprisingly, a change of positions hasn't changed Cal Ripken's plans for the break. His 643,105 votes at third base put him 371,608 ahead of Cleveland's Matt Williams, a four-time member of the NL All-Star team before being traded by San Francisco. Ripken has appeared in 14 straight All-Star games, a record for AL shortstops, and his vote total this year is the second-highest in the AL behind Seattle's Ken Griffey (877,090).

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Brady Anderson is third among outfielders with 349,943 votes and trails Cleveland's David Justice by only 47,374. Rafael Palmeiro is third among first basemen, Mike Bordick is fourth among shortstops, Chris Hoiles is fifth among catchers and Pete Incaviglia is sixth among designated hitters.

Mills nears clearance

Manager Davey Johnson was able to unearth a nugget of good news yesterday despite being subjected to the club's eighth postponement this season.

It concerned reliever Alan Mills, whose recovery from a pinched nerve on the left side of his neck has accelerated to the point where it may not be long before he's cleared to pitch.

Mills, out since April 11, has began to lift 3-pound weights for the first time, which doesn't sound like much until considering that his left shoulder had been so weak since colliding with Lenny Webster that he could barely handle 2 pounds.

"That was one of the criteria for him being able to pitch," Johnson said.

Mills recently threw batting practice in Sarasota, Fla., where the club has its extended spring training, and the only complication was a mildly stiff neck. He'll pitch BP again tomorrow and might appear in a game there Friday.

Mathews remains confident

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With the weather altering the schedule and Orioles starters continuing to pitch well, reliever Terry Mathews hasn't gotten into a game since May 27 in New York. But he doesn't expect the inactivity to bring about another wild streak because he's more conscious of getting in regular work on the side.

"We've got a throwing routine down now where, if I'm not in the game, I'm getting up and getting as close to a game-type situation as I can get, airing it out in the bullpen," he said. "And they know it won't take away from my effectiveness my next outing."

Wet outlook ahead, too

Paul Zwaska, the Orioles' head groundskeeper, didn't sound very optimistic about the weather for the next couple of days. "What you see is what you get," he said.

Though four of the club's eight postponements have come at home, Zwaska said there's a misconception that the weather in Baltimore and the surrounding areas this spring has been wetter than usual. He said the amount of rain that has fallen the past two months is below normal.

"They've really had it worse on the road," he said.

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Still, with the Orioles playing so well, any stoppage is unpopular.

"You don't want to take one or two days off when things are going good," reliever Jesse Orosco said. "When you're not winning, then you welcome every rainout."

Johnson added: "I wanted a little bit of rain for my yard because I just put some grass seed down, but this is ridiculous."

Around the horn

B. J. Surhoff's name showed up several times as the AL hitting leaders for May were released. The left fielder was seventh in average (.366), fifth in RBIs (27), tied for fifth in hits (37) and tied for ninth in total bases (62) for the month. Anderson (six steals, 20 walks) also placed as did Orioles pitchers Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Randy Myers and Orosco (13 appearances). Among the Japanese League leaders? Ex-Oriole Leo Gomez, .252 average with 10 home runs for Chunichi. First baseman Francisco "Franky" Figueroa has been added to the roster of the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds. He will take the roster spot of first baseman Calvin Pickering, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list.

Pub Date: 6/03/97


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