Ledesma starts to make an impression Call-up responds in clutch in first back-to-back starts

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Over the past two days, Aaron Ledesma has given the Orioles the helping hand, and timely bat, they were seeking when they called him up from Triple-A Rochester on July 15.

In back-to-back games against the Anaheim Angels this weekend at Camden Yards, Ledesma's presence put the Orioles in a position to prevail.

It first happened Saturday night in the Orioles' seven-run sixth inning that paved the way to a 10-9 victory. With two outs and the bases loaded, Ledesma fouled off six pitches in an 11-pitch at-bat, finally walking to force in the first run of the inning.

And yesterday, he hit his first major-league homer to bring the Orioles to within 3-2 in the sixth inning and then had what could have been the game-winning hit in the ninth.

In his first back-to-back Orioles starts, he provided a lift.

"He looks confident, he's doing a good job," left fielder B. J. Surhoff said. "When you get an opportunity like he's getting, it can only help his future. Someone is always watching."

Ledesma, 26, has played all four infield positions for the Orioles and yesterday started for the third time in four games. He is hitting .348 (8-for-23) in 15 games since his promotion from Rochester.

"He's played second base, first base, third base. It doesn't look like he's out of position in any of them," catcher Chris Hoiles said. "I think the kid can hit, too. He showed today that he can hit for a little power."

The homer almost wasn't Ledesma's only RBI of the game.

With one out in the ninth and Lenny Webster at second base and Jeffrey Hammonds on first, Ledesma stepped to the plate and hit a bouncer into left field that could have been the game-winner.

But third base coach Sam Perlozzo chose to hold Webster and Hammonds got caught off second, leading to the second out of what would be a scoreless inning.

"I couldn't do any more than I can do," Webster said. "I'm not going to run through a stop sign. He [Perlozzo] threw his hands up and I got stopped."

Ledesma was naturally a tad disappointed. "When I was going to first, I already saw us winning the game," he said. "It would have been [great], but it didn't work out that way."

But it added to an already favorable impression he has made on manager Davey Johnson.

"Aaron's been great," Johnson said. "We have a lot of confidence in him. I let him hit with the game on the line. That tells you what I think of him."

Ledesma spent last season in the organization of the team he helped beat yesterday. He played at Vancouver, the Angels' Triple-A affiliate, but was never called up.

"I know most of the guys on that team," he said of Anaheim. "It feels good, but just winning makes it that much nicer."

Ledesma's future with the Orioles is uncertain with the impending return of Roberto Alomar. Thanks to six seasons in the New York Mets' organization, he does not have any options remaining and would have to clear waivers for the Orioles to retain him if demoted.

"Right now, I am just enjoying every single day," said Ledesma, who uses Dave Dellucci's old locker. "If this all ended today, it would be the best experience of my career."

Second to none

Aaron Ledesma the past two games has followed Jeff Reboulet's lead as an excellent fill-in for Roberto Alomar. A look at how the Orioles second basemen have done since Alomar went out July 29:

Reboulet

Avg. ... H-AB ... R .. 2B .. HR .. RBI .. BB

.298 .. 17-57 ... 7 ... 4 ... 1 .... 6 ... 7

Ledesma

.375 ... 3-8 .... 3 ... 1 ... 1 .... 2 ... 2

Tot. .. 20-65 .. 10 ... 5 ... 2 .... 8 ... 9

Pub Date: 8/18/97

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