SARASOTA, Fla. -- The ebullience and sheer joy of his Aruban youth are gone now.
Calvin Maduro, 24, has tasted life in the big show and after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies last fall, realizes that the business aspect of baseball sometimes is the only consideration affecting a player's career.
"I feel at home again," said Maduro, who was signed by the Orioles as a minor-league free agent Jan. 25. "I had some interest from other teams, but I wanted to come here no matter what. I really want to pitch for the Orioles if I get the chance."
Maduro first reached the Phillies in September of 1996, becoming the second native Aruban (and first pitcher) to make the big leagues. Outfielder Eugene Kingsale appeared with the Orioles five days earlier.
He had been traded in a deal that brought Pete Incaviglia and Todd Zeile to Baltimore and was joining a Philadelphia team desperate for pitching help.
In 1997, Maduro made 13 starts for the Phillies, pitched the second game of the season and earned his first big-league win April 18 against Montreal. He shuffled between Philadelphia and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during a summer that he labeled as "filled with personal problems. It didn't go that well, but I got half a year in the big leagues."
The major-league numbers were not all that impressive (3-7 record, 7.23 ERA, 83 hits and 41 walks in 71 innings), but he was a rookie being thrown to the lions and he persevered.
The release was another matter. Maduro admits he was a little stunned by the action after a decent showing at the Triple-A level.
"In a way, I was shocked. I had pitched almost 180 innings and I haven't missed a start in seven years," he said. "In the All-Star Game, I was the pitchers MVP. My ERA [5.98] was a little high, but I won 12 games [leading the Scranton staff] and I thought I had a pretty good year."
He is looking eagerly to restarting with his new/old team, where he made a steady climb through the ranks before being traded.
"I'm feeling good and confident because I'm back home. I can't wait until the games start and I get in there to show what I can do," said Maduro, who amassed three shutouts (including a no-hitter) for Bowie three years ago before being promoted to Triple-A.
"I have no idea where they're going to send me. They haven't told me anything. But, as always, I'm healthy and wherever it is, I'll be working hard. I want to help this team."
The Orioles are adopting a wait-and-see policy with Maduro, who pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League. They want to see how he looks in exhibition games against Triple-A opposition, then make a decision.
Who knows? The Orioles might have a two-Aruban staff someday.
"Sidney [Ponson] is going to stick up there," Maduro said with a trace of envy. "I'd love to join him. All of us from Aruba are pulling hard for each other."
Pub Date: 3/24/99