Younger Hargrove moves ahead of his father - in the draft, anyway


NEW YORK -- New Orioles draft choice Andy Hargrove may never play in the major leagues, but he already has something on his famous dad.

"He beat me," said Mike Hargrove, after learning that his son had been chosen by the Orioles in the 31st round of baseball's amateur draft yesterday. "I didn't get drafted out of high school."

Mike Hargrove was drafted out of Northwest Oklahoma State University by the Texas Rangers and went on to play 12 seasons in the major leagues. Andy Hargrove just completed a strong senior year at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, but is expected to enroll at Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Ariz., and play at least one year of collegiate baseball.

"He's what they call a draft and follow," Mike Hargrove said. "He'll be the property of the Orioles until three days before the next draft. I'm happy for him. Whether he plays or signs, I'm happy he was drafted. It's a nice thing for him."

The 19-year-old pitcher/first baseman made news recently when he pitched a no-hitter for St. Ignatius in the Ohio high school playoffs, but his dad said his future in the game is as a hitter.

"His forte is the way he swings the bat," he said.

Hargrove is realistic about his son's chances of making a career in professional baseball. The odds against a 31st-round pick making the majors are high, but stranger things have happened. The Dodgers drafted Mike Piazza deep in the 1988 draft as a courtesy to his father, who was a close friend of manager Tommy Lasorda, but Piazza developed into one of the game's biggest stars.

The important thing for Andy Hargrove -- according to his father -- is to continue with his education while he figures out what the future might hold.

"We'll take it a step at a time," he said. "If pro baseball is not in his future, then I want him to get on with his life."

The Orioles apparently were in a nepotistic mood during yesterday's second day of the draft. They also selected Ryan Newman, the son of Orioles bench coach Jeff Newman.

The swingman

Fifth starter Jason Johnson is scheduled to start the third game of the series tonight, and there is no reason to pace himself. His next start after tonight won't come for at least 10 days.

Hargrove said yesterday that the young right-hander would move into the bullpen for a few days next week.

Trombley on track

The most uplifting aspect of Monday night's victory for Hargrove was the outstanding performance of setup man Mike Trombley, who retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings to bridge the gap between starter Mike Mussina and closer Mike Timlin.

"The reason we won was because Mike Trombley shut them down for two innings," Hargrove said. "That allowed us to get to our closer."

Trombley struggled through the early weeks of the season before putting together a string of decent outings that led up to Monday's game. It has taken him some time to replicate the level of performance that made him so effective in both the setup and closer roles in Minnesota last year, but he appears to be settling into the role of Timlin's chief table-setter.

"He's getting there," said Hargrove. "He located his fastball pretty well and had a nice little splitter going. He doesn't throw the ball 95 mph. He throws around 86-88. If you throw at that speed, you really need to locate your fastball well, then the other pitches work well off that."

More lineup changes

Hargrove had planned to shuffle the batting order again last night. He had B.J. Surhoff in the fifth slot and Will Clark batting seventh on the lineup card posted late yesterday afternoon.

"Albert [Belle] has been swinging the bat well, so I was looking for people to protect him," Hargrove said. "B.J. has been hitting better, so I moved him back up to fifth."

The lineup has been in a state of flux throughout the club's recent offensive troubles, but that isn't the way Hargrove would prefer to operate.

"I would rather have a set lineup," he said, "but sometimes you have to toy with the lineup to help kick-start their swings or to give somebody a mental breather."

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