Consider Mike Devereaux's recent string of home runs a closing attraction, a trailer at the end of a somewhat frustrating season.
But Devereaux's burst -- four home runs in the past 11 games -- also provides hope for the Baltimore Orioles. Manager Frank Robinson is saying that Devereaux, a fluid outfielder, has the potential to produce 20 home runs and 75 RBI a season.
"I thought he was capable of going like this for the whole year," Robinson said. "He has strength and bat quickness."
Devereaux displayed that strength and quickness with a two-run home run off the Toronto Blue Jays' David Wells on Monday night. It was Devereaux's 12th home run of the season and gave him 49 RBI.
"The last few weeks of the season have meant a lot to me," he said. "I've learned some things. I've watched some tapes. I've talked to Frank. I don't write this off as being nothing at the end of the season."
* Dan Boone, an Orioles discovery plucked from the Senior Professional Baseball Association, plans to return to Florida this winter and play in the midlife circuit. The reason is money.
"It's either that or go back into construction," said Boone, a member of the Daytona Beach Express.
* The injury bug bit the Orioles again. Dave Gallagher (pulled hamstring) was scratched as the starting left fielder and replaced by Brady Anderson.
Toronto second baseman Manny Lee, lifted from Monday night's game with a sore shoulder, didn't start last night. His spot was taken by Luis Sojo.
* Cal Ripken is headed for the top-fielding season by a shortstop in major-league history with a percentage of .996 entering last night's game. The current record is .992 held by Toronto's Tony Fernandez.
Asked if he knew about the record, Fernandez said, "No."
Asked if he cared about losing the record, Fernandez said, "No."
* The final monthly meeting among Robinson, his coaching staff, general manager Roland Hemond and president Larry Lucchino will take place today. As usual, the Orioles' future will be discussed.
"We'll talk about what direction we want to go in," Robinson said. "Who we need. Who we feel will fit with this club."
* It's not the money; it's the playing time.
That's the dilemma facing designated hitter Ron Kittle and the Orioles. The team has until Dec. 20 to pick up the option on his contract -- $550,000 before incentives -- or let it expire. Kittle, acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Phil Bradley, has been bothered by a groin pull. His most recent start was Sept. 15, and he has hit .164 with two home runs for the Orioles.
But he has market value.
"I think the team will pick up the option," Kittle said.
He doesn't want to collect a paycheck and sit on the bench.
"I just want to play," said Kittle, who had 18 home runs with the White Sox. "That's all I worry about. I'd rather go 0-for-4 and get hit in the face four times than not play. There are a lot of teams looking for power hitters, and there are only so many guys who hit home runs."