Search for Davis sub looks best from within Malone finds deals scarce, but Hammonds' bat talks

BOSTON — BOSTON -- On the day after finding out for certain that outfielder Eric Davis will be lost for the next two months, the Orioles continued to grapple with a difficult question:

Should the club move swiftly to replace the lost run-production potential, or bank on the continued success -- and good health -- of young outfielders Jeffrey Hammonds and Tony Tarasco?


Manager Davey Johnson has mixed feelings. He would love to have another quality veteran, but he has proven that he doesn't mind giving a young player the opportunity to prove himself.

"We can go the way we're going," Johnson said. "I just hope that Eric's not out too long. Eight weeks is a long time. You hope nothing else happens."


Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone said on Monday that the front office already was at work scouring the major leagues for possible help, but Johnson did not seem optimistic about the club's chances of acquiring a front-line player.

"I talked to Kevin about what's out there," Johnson said. "What was out there was either injured or too expensive."

The Orioles have done just fine with the players already on the roster. Hammonds and Tarasco each have stepped up to make significant offensive contributions since Davis left the club May 26 suffering from an abdominal abscess caused by a slight perforation of the bowel that will force him to undergo surgery on Friday. The team has not missed a beat, winning 11 of 13 games.

Hammonds extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 4-for-9 in the doubleheader. He has 15 hits in 30 at-bats (.500) during the streak, including four doubles and three home runs, including one in the third inning of the nightcap. Tarasco, who sat out both games yesterday, has six RBIs in his last six games. Club officials would love to sit back and watch both of them grow into superstars, but Johnson would rather not leave anything to chance.

"It depends on what they find," Johnson said. "We're always looking to add a player who can help us. If we can pick up somebody, I think we'll do it."

Malone said in a television interview on Monday that the Orioles would be interested in Oakland first baseman Mark McGwire if the Athletics decide to move him before he becomes a free agent this winter, but it seems unlikely that the A's would consider trading him at this early stage in the season.

McGwire may be the only reason that fans are showing up at the Oakland Coliseum, but McGwire may well be available later if it becomes obvious that he does not intend to re-sign with the A's.

The relationship between the Orioles and A's organizations became strained during the labor negotiations, when A's general manager Sandy Alderson and Orioles owner Peter Angelos exchanged some harsh words through the media, but that probably would not keep Alderson from talking trade with general manager Pat Gillick, who was not working in Baltimore at the time of that controversy.


Wedding bell/All-Star blues

Jimmy Key already has informed American League All-Star manager Joe Torre that he does not intend to take part in the All-Star Game if he is chosen to be on the AL pitching staff.

Key and fiancee Karin Kane are planning to get married in Baltimore on the day of the Midseason Classic. That was in the works long before Key emerged as one of the winningest pitchers in baseball and an obvious All-Star selection.

"I'm not going to it anyway whether I'm picked or not," Key said. "I told Joe Torre that a month ago."

Reliever Jesse Orosco, standing nearby, said he would be happy to take Key's place in Cleveland. "Can I go, can I have your exempt?" Orosco asked.

When informed that the place probably will go to another starting pitcher -- perhaps Orioles right-hander Scott Erickson -- he was not disappointed.


"In that case," he said, "can I go to the wedding?"

Six aces

It's official: The Atlanta Braves will bring out their best to face the top three starters in the Orioles' rotation when the top two teams in baseball hook up on the inaugural weekend of interleague play at Turner Field.

Four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux will pitch the opener against Key, 1996 Cy Young winner John Smoltz will face Mike Mussina, and 1991 Cy Young winner Tom Glavine will take on Erickson in a series that has been a sellout since well before Opening Day.

Head over heels

Hammonds flipped over the waist-high fence in right field trying to catch Mo Vaughn's third-inning home run in the nightcap, which had to send a shiver through the Orioles' organization. But Hammonds popped right up and remained in the game.


"It would have been a lot better if I had caught the ball," said Hammonds, who did manage to get his glove on the ball. "Since I didn't make the catch, I felt the fall, but fortunately I didn't land on anything important."

No progress

There apparently has been no change in the status of negotiations between Brady Anderson and the Orioles. "I hoped there'd be some sort of closure in the near future," said agent Jeff Borris, "but I don't know."

Anderson doesn't seem particularly concerned. He wants to return to the Orioles next year, but should be a sought-after player in the free-agent market this winter.

If he does not re-sign, look for the Los Angeles Dodgers to be a logical second choice. They figure to be looking for a good-hitting center fielder and Anderson is a native of Southern California.

Living in the past


Johnson didn't hesitate to wax nostalgic when a Boston reporter asked him how often he thinks back to the 1986 World Series, in which Johnson's New York Mets came back from the dead to win the world championship.

"I was kind of reliving it today," Johnson said. "I was looking through the [Red Sox] press guide and saw all the postseason box-scores in the back. There was a lot of stuff I forgot about, like the rainout that gave [Bruce] Hurst an extra day of rest. They were pretty cocky, but on our side, we knew it was over. After that game, we knew it was over."

The game he was referring to, of course, was the one in which Bill Buckner let the ground ball go through his legs to allow the Mets to even the series and force a decisive seventh game.

Around the horn

In the nightcap, Cal Ripken hit his 499th career double, tying him for 34th on the all-time list with Rusty Staub. Vaughn has eight homers in his last 13 games.

Hits and misses


On the field: Shortstop Mike Bordick made a spectacular diving play to start a crucial double play in the eighth inning of the nightcap, robbing Tim Naehring of a hit that would have brought the potential winning run to the plate with one out. Instead, Bordick rolled over and flipped to Roberto Alomar, who made a perfect relay to first to end the inning.

In the dugout: Alomar was out of the starting lineup against left-hander Vaughn Eshelman in the first game, but came on to pinch hit for reserve second baseman Jeff Reboulet in the eighth and kicked off a three-run Orioles rally with a leadoff double.

In the clubhouse: Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds seemed unconcerned about speculation that the club might get another veteran player to replace injured Eric Davis. "All I have to do is continue to run, hit and throw the ball," Hammonds said, "and the playing time will take care of itself." Then he went out and had two hits in the opener and two more, including a home run, in the nightcap to extend his hitting streak to nine games.

Pub Date: 6/11/97