Back to the future Another youth movement awaits newest Astros

January 11, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

There is one thing about their new surroundings that will be all too familiar for the three Orioles who were traded to Houston for first baseman Glenn Davis.

Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling know all about rebuilding programs. They were part of the Orioles' master plan to revamp with youth.

The fact that they won't be around for its completion makes their reaction to the trade very similar.

"It's disappointing because I came over here in a rebuilding year," said Schilling, who was obtained for Mike Boddicker in 1988 and was the first of the three to reach the big leagues. "To not have been a part of the 1989 season, then watch what went on last year and see what they're trying to do this year -- I wanted to be part of the whole program.

"Now I have to go through it again. I told them [the Astros] that hopefully I'll be there to see the end of this one. I never thought I'd be part of two rebuilding programs before I was 25."

All three of the newest ex-Orioles have been living in Baltimore during the offseason. In a touch of irony, Harnisch and Finley are leaving tomorrow on the team's annual cruise to the Caribbean.

"I've got my tickets in my hand," said Finley. "I'd like to see them keep me from going."

Talking about the cruise provided a light moment in Finley's day. "I guess they can call it the Orioles-Astros cruise now," he said.

"I'm kind of numb right now," Finley admitted. "I don't think it has sunk in yet. But it's the nature of the game I play. I've always said there are some things you don't have any control over -- and this is one of them.

"I loved playing in Baltimore. I enjoyed the park, I enjoyed the fans and I was looking forward to the new stadium. I'm kind of sad about that.

"I'm leaving with nothing but positive memories, and if you have to leave, then that's the way to go. But I have to look at it as a positive thing -- what it can do for me.

"The Astros have lost a lot to free agency and are sort of starting over again. It's a lot like we did in 1989. That whole season was the highlight of my career."

If the trade was a disappointment, it wasn't a surprise to anybody. "I've been hearing about it for weeks," said Harnisch, "so it was hardly a surprise. I'm a little down right now. It's not an easy thing.

"I liked playing here a lot and, being from New York, it was very convenient and I have a lot of respect for the organization. But it's part of the game, and I have to look ahead. It's just a question of changing places and keep on doing the same things.

"There's a lot of things I'm going to miss here, but I can't look back anymore, I just have to look ahead."

Finley was working out at the home of Cal Ripken Jr. when he learned of the trade. "As soon as [general manager] Roland Hemond called I knew exactly what it was," he said. "I'd heard the rumors, but you can't let them bother you. If you worried about every rumor in this game you'd go crazy."

At yesterday's news conference announcing the trade, Orioles president Larry Lucchino made it a point to cite the contributions of Harnisch, Finley and Schilling. "In one way it's a sense of professional satisfaction of doing what you wanted to do [obtain Davis]," he said. "But there's also a feeling of sadness and gratitude for the roles these players have played the last three years.

"It's a hard thing to say goodbye to them, but sometimes there are things you have to do for the overall good of the team and the franchise."

And, so, Finley, Harnisch and Schilling begin another phase of their careers and walk into a situation that is almost identical to their first steps in the big leagues.

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