The Orioles were so convinced that catcher Brook Fordyce wouldn't arrive at Camden Yards for yesterday's game, they had Willie Morales drive four hours from Norfolk, Va. That's where Triple-A Rochester was playing. That's where Morales would be returning.
Fordyce, acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night, not only made the trip from Los Angeles, but he also started against Cleveland Indians left-hander Chuck Finley. Talk about a good first impression.
"It surprised me. We didn't expect him, given his location, until sometime tonight," said manager Mike Hargrove. "That tells a lot about him, his desire to play here."
Replacing popular catcher Charles Johnson, who swapped places with him, Fordyce singled twice and scored the tying run in the sixth inning. He also was on the receiving end of John Parrish's first major-league victory, 10-7, over the Indians before 47,065.
Parrish had extended the Orioles' season-high scoreless innings streak to 16, matching their longest of the season, before David Segui hit a grand slam with none out in the sixth. It was the ninth slam allowed by the Orioles this season, and the second in two days. It also wiped out a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles went ahead, 6-4, in the sixth to position Parrish for the win, but he had to sweat it out until they also scored four times in the seventh. Three runs crossed on a bases-loaded double by rookie Luis Matos, who injected more enthusiasm into a crowd that seemed delighted by the Orioles' reincarnation, erupting each time one of the newcomers made a difficult play.
"They had some young guys in the lineup who can run, and we couldn't stop them," said Indians manager Charlie Manuel.
When's the last time that's been said about the Orioles?
Matos left his imprint - or footprint - all over the game, tying a club record with four stolen bases to go with four RBIs.
"We just want to play the best we can so we can stay here," he said.
Fordyce's arrival punctuated another day of change for the Orioles. The bullpen received B. J. Ryan from Triple-A Rochester. Rookie first baseman Chris Richard, with bags in hand, turned toward the trainer's room before being directed to the clubhouse.
Reliever Alan Mills saw Richard standing outside Hargrove's office, accepted a handshake and asked, "Who are you?" Before that, Mike Mussina walked out of the snack room carrying a bagel, spotted Mills sitting at his locker and said, "You still here?"
Mills has kept the same address, but Johnson, Mike Bordick, Harold Baines and Mike Timlin have vacated the premises.
Asked if he had figured out who was who in the clubhouse, Hargrove said: "You bet. I've got press releases and press guides all round me.
"There always are mixed emotions," he said. "We gave up four good guys that are good people besides having a lot of talent. ... ... But it's also exciting in that we're bringing back good, younger players. That's obviously what we need to do."
Fordyce was having dinner when told of the trade. He took a taxi to Los Angeles from Anaheim, where the White Sox were playing, and hopped on a red-eye. He came straight to the ballpark without stopping at his hotel.
"I got here about 9:15, 9:30," he said. "I didn't sleep much. Things are running through your mind. But I'm ready to go. It's a brand new season for me with two months left to go."
The drive back for Morales must have seemed that long. Fordyce's arrival signaled that he wouldn't be needed.
Morales shook a few hands, grabbed his bats and duffel bag and headed out the door.
"It's going to be a tough day. My family's with me," he said.
Fordyce, 30, missed the first 43 games after breaking a bone in his left foot during spring training.
"Obviously, the season didn't start out well there, which probably led to a few things," said Fordyce, who hit .272 for the first-place White Sox. "But, as of late, I've felt comfortable. Things will come around. I did my job for them, and I hope to do my job over here."
Part of his job is learning a new staff. "Obviously, I'm going to let them pitch their game," he said. "But it's just getting to know their stuff and getting comfortable with them, building a relationship with them."
The bonding began yesterday with Parrish, 22, whose major-league debut Monday included nine strikeouts in seven innings against the New York Yankees. He allowed four hits yesterday, walking five and striking out five. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
It became apparent in the first inning that Parrish needed some counseling. Hargrove came to the mound after a two-out walk to Manny Ramirez that followed a single by former Oriole Roberto Alomar. Resting a hand on Parrish's shoulder, Hargrove did all the talking. Usually, without a change being made, such visits come from pitching coach Sammy Ellis.
"I tried to reassure him that the last time out he faced a lineup that was just as potent as this one was, and he went out and threw strikes and stayed ahead of hitters. If you can't trust your stuff, you have no business being here. Trust your stuff and concentrate on the mitt and get us out of this, and he did," Hargrove said.
Parrish struck out Wil Cordero to end the first and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth by retiring Omar Vizquel on a pop-up and striking out Alomar on three pitches.
"A lot of people contributed to this win," Parrish said. "They all picked me up. That's one thing I talked about. You're not always going to have a great outing, but the team's going to pick you up. This was one of those games where I just got by."
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Site: Camden Yards
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Twins' J.C. Romero (2000 debut) vs. Orioles' Sidney Ponson (5-7, 5.44)