Davis gives O's powerful push Righthanded logjam could inspire trade

On baseball

January 11, 1991|By Jim Henneman

There's no doubt the trade for Glenn Davis gives the Orioles the power hitter they've been looking for, but it also raises a few questions.

The most logical is: "Where do they go from here?" The present makeup of the roster indicates an overload at some positions and dictates a decidedly unbalanced lineup.

Anybody planning to run down home runs during the last year of Memorial Stadium's big-league existence should plan on spending a lot of time in the leftfield area. The Orioles' lineup is filled with righthanded hitters, leading to speculation that there is more trade activity to come.

Is a deal in the works?

What will manager Frank Robinson do with three first basemen?

Will Davis, Randy Milligan or possibly even David Segui be asked play the outfield?

How does the acquisition of Davis affect Dwight Evans?

Who replaces Pete Harnisch in the starting rotation?

Are the Orioles taking too much of a gamble, trading two pitchers from a staff that is far from proven for a player who may be here only one year?

It is safe to say the Orioles did not trade for Davis to set up other deals. But, it is obvious they are now in a position to do so if they desire.

News of the Davis trade had hardly circulated before it was reported that the Detroit Tigers had a "trade in place" for Mickey Tettleton if free-agent catcher Mike Heath signs with another team as expected.

The Orioles reportedly would receive righthanded pitcher Jeff Robinson, a hard thrower who was Detroit's No. 2 starter before an arm injury sidelined him last year. The hangup in this potential trade is that Tettleton, as part of his rights for accepting arbitration and passing up free agency, cannot be traded without his permission before June 15.

General manager Roland Hemond confirmed that he has had talks with the Tigers, although he wouldn't mention names. Club president Larry Lucchino, in discussing the various ramifications the trade for Davis, admitted it could have a domino effect on Chris Hoiles, a catcher and potential designated hitter. "What do you do with him, unless you catch him?" asked Lucchino.

When asked about a possible trade with Detroit involving Tettleton, Lucchino would only say "no comment."

Trading Tettleton would give the righthanded-hitting Hoiles a more clearly defined role, but would only further imbalance the Orioles' lineup. The switch-hitting Tettleton and Sam Horn represent all of the Orioles' lefthanded power in a lineup that suddenly doesn't have many openings.

Robinson is unconcerned about the overload of righthanded hitters. "I'd rather have it that way than the other [lefthanded] way," he said. He was referring to the fact that, for whatever reason, righthanded hitters traditionally have been least affected the platoon system.

As far as the three first basemen go, Robinson dismissed the congestion by saying it "will be up to me to find at-bats and playing time for them." Segui is considered one of the organization's top prospects, but he hasn't had the benefit of a full year at Triple A because he was rushed to the big leagues when Milligan was hurt a year ago.

Robinson said the subject hasn't been discussed, but it doesn't take a genius to figure the Orioles will do some experimenting in leftfield next season if the current roster remains intact. There are people in the organization who feel Segui, despite his slowness afoot, could adapt the easiest because he has good hands and defensive instincts. Others say that Milligan could make the adjustment.

Davis is yet another possibility, even though it hasn't been discussed and he undoubtedly would prefer to remain at first base. "A lot of people don't know it, but I played a couple of years in the minor leagues in the outfield and played well," he said. "I made an all-star team and I played in the outfield in my first 10 games in the big leagues," he said.

"I've worked hard to make myself a first baseman [he led the National League in fielding in 1988], but I think I can still play the outfield," said Davis. "I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this club, whether it be first base, the outfield, or designated hitter."

The players most directly affected by the trade could be Evans and Brady Anderson. With Finley gone, Anderson is the only true leadoff hitter left. A similar player to Finley, Anderson is bound to see more playing time if his shoulder remains sound.

As is Evans, who has expressed the desire to play in the field as much as possible. It now appears that will be as often as his 39-year-old body, and his bat, permit.

"It was always my hope to play him out there as much as I could," said Robinson.

The trade should decrease the amount of time Evans is needed as a DH and increase, at least potentially, his time in the outfield. The same also holds true for Joe Orsulak, who has had the steadiest bat on the club for three years and now figures more prominently than ever in the Orioles' lineup.

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