BOWIE -- Orioles manager Ray Miller arrived at Prince George's Stadium yesterday relaxed in knowing he had plenty of reserves on hand from the club's minor-league system to spell his regulars for last night's exhibition game.
Then came the tension.
Miller discovered that some newcomers weren't available for various reasons, leading to a bit of roster shuffling before the Orioles' 7-4 loss to their minor-league all-stars.
Single-A catcher Tim DeCinces, the son of former Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces, was promoted to Triple-A Rochester because of a thumb injury to Melvin Rosario and accompanied the Red Wings to Syracuse. Reliever Ryan Kohlmeier, who leads Double-A Bowie with four saves, was here but unavailable because he pitched the previous night.
Australian right-hander John Stephens, who has 40 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings at Single-A Delmarva, strained his neck in a collision during Thursday's game. And Delmarva pitcher Matt Achilles, who threw a no-hitter last week, couldn't be used because he's )) starting tonight.
Single-A catcher Jayson Werth, one of the club's first-round picks last year, moved over from the all-stars to replace DeCinces. Right-hander Rafael Tapia was summoned from extended spring training in Sarasota to bolster the staff.
None of the Rochester players appeared in the game. The Red Wings have been stretched thin because of injuries and promotions to the major-league club. "They're having a hard enough time fielding a team," said farm director Syd Thrift.
Harold Baines won the pre-game home run hitting contest, edging teammate Cal Ripken, 5-4.
Six players got 14 swings against Orioles bullpen catcher Sammy Snider, a left-hander, and left-handed hitters led each side. Calvin Pickering slugged three for the minor-league stars.
Overall, the Orioles won the contest, 11-6, with Chris Hoiles also participating.
A hero among his heroes
Jerry Hairston was the minor-league stars' hitting hero with a bases-clearing double and four RBIs overall, but he got a bigger kick out of facing his boyhood idol, Baines.
"I was most happy when Harold came to the plate," said Hairston, who grew up in the Chicago area and plays at Single-A Frederick. "Probably the biggest thrill was when he hit the ball to me in the hole. I didn't know what to do with it at first. Fortunately, I made the play."
Hairston is one of the better middle-infield prospects in the system. His father and grandfather both played in the majors.
"This game is good for us just to watch the big-leaguers and see how they approach things. You realize they're very similar to you. They're just better," said Hairston.
Of iron and steal
Ripken supplied a light touch to the game in the third inning when the mascot Birdzerk stole his glove.
The Iron Man chased the creature into left field before Birdzerk heaved the glove over the wall.
Ripken flied out in his only plate appearance, then left the game.
Sharing the wealth
Peter Kirk, chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership Inc., and owner of the Baysox, Keys and Shorebirds, said there has been "talk about moving around this [exhibition] game to each of our ballparks" on an annual basis.
Kirk said he believes Rochester, normally the site, should be included in the rotation as well.
"This is great for our fans, the minor-league players are in awe, the entire Orioles front office is here. This is what baseball should do more of."
Hurting path grows longer
Bad luck continues to dog Brian Sackinsky, who is making another comeback attempt.
Bowie manager Joe Ferguson said Sackinsky suffered a groin pull in the first inning of Saturday night's nightcap against Harrisburg.
"I asked the umpires not to start the game because of the conditions, but they went ahead. And right away, he slipped on the mud," said Ferguson.
Sackinsky is trying to battle back from two years of arm troubles.
The Baysox pre-sold all the tickets to the game, which drew a stadium-record 14,316.
"The demand was so high we cut them off," said general manager John Danos. "There was no walk-up sale."
Post-game fireworks -- always a major draw in the minors -- provided the other attraction.
Pub Date: 5/05/98