Baltimore Orioles manager Frank Robinson didn't waste time last night. He inserted third baseman Leo Gomez into the starting lineup in Gomez's first day in the majors.
"I hope Cito [Gaston] doesn't call me up and get on me for playing a rookie in a pennant race," deadpanned Robinson of the Toronto manager.
Gomez arrived in Baltimore after five minor-league seasons, including an injury-marred 1988, when he didn't play after May 1 because of a stress fracture in his right leg.
Gomez, 23, said he was "surprised to see my name in the lineup already. I was so happy."
There was no question about his bat at all levels of the minors. This year, Gomez led the Class AAA International League with 97 runs, 97 RBI and 89 walks. He hit .277 with 26 homers and was the Orioles' organization Player of the Year.
He also won that award in 1987 while with the then-Class A Hagerstown Suns.
"I like taking it one year at a time," he said. "Sometimes you can do just too much and make it too hard for yourself."
Gomez also believes he has improved the weaker part of his game -- defense. "I think it's 95 percent better," he said. "I've worked on my defense a lot."
He almost was called up to the Orioles Aug. 4, but was hurt in the first inning, just before the call came. Jeff McKnight came up from the Red Wings instead.
"I almost cried," Gomez said. "But then my wife told me this was not my chance. It wasn't meant to be."
Re-joining the team with Gomez were pitcher Mickey Weston, catcher Chris Hoiles and infielder Juan Bell. Bell is the only one who has not been up this season.
*Randy Milligan's sore left shoulder withstood a little longer batting practice yesterday, but there still was no word when Milligan might play again.
"If I'd stop setting deadlines, I'd be all right," said Milligan. "It's still sore, and I'm just waiting. There's no need to go out and risk having to have surgery."
Milligan said he feels well one day, not so well the next. "I don't think this cold weather is good for it," he said.
*Groundskeeper Pat Santarone said the field "doesn't look very pretty, but it's very playable" two days after the Maryland-Clemson football game.
"We were fortunate that it rained after the football, not before."
Santarone's crew worked hard yesterday on filling the divots, replacing the pitching mound and returning the field in general to baseball condition.
*The Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, each with five, have the most players rated among the top-10 prospects in all the Class AAA and Class AA leagues, according to Baseball America's annual survey.
Named from the Orioles were David Segui, Gomez and Hoiles from Rochester and Luis Mercedes and Mike Mussina from Class AA Hagerstown. Mussina finished the season with Rochester.
Segui was rated No. 2 in the International League behind Syracuse Chiefs outfielder Mark Whiten.
*The Orioles team in the Maryland Instructional League beat Towson State, 4-1, in 10 innings yesterday to raise its record to 6-3.
Manny Alexander's double was the key hit in a three-run 10th.
*Boston Red Sox manager Joe Morgan disputes the claim that Dan Boone is the lightest pitcher in the majors since 1922. Morgan said Oil Can Boyd weighed 137 pounds when he pitched for Boston. However, the Red Sox media guide for 1984, when all but Boyd's first five games were spent at the major-league level, lists Boyd's weight as 155.
Boone is listed at 142.