Gonzales traded to Blue Jays Deal brings Orioles minor-league pitcher

January 16, 1991|By Kent Baker

For almost four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Rene Gonzales was the consummate backup infielder.

Although he preferred to play shortstop, he took whatever infield time he could get -- at any position -- because Cal Ripken never missed a game and rarely missed an inning.

Gonzales never complained publicly, but Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said that this winter "he asked us several times to be traded."

Yesterday, Gonzales got his wish when he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor-league left-hander Rob Blumberg, who has amassed 234 strikeouts in 226 2/3 innings during his two years as a professional.

The trade eliminates one of the Orioles' potential salary-arbitration cases and may give Gonzales, 29, fresh hope to be a starter with an organization that traded its All-Star shortstop, Tony Fernandez, during the winter meetings.

"Cal never sits, and he never will," Gonzales said yesterday from his California home. "I guess if you're going to have to sit behind somebody, it might as well be a future Hall of Famer. But at some point, you have to get a little selfish for your own career."

One of the most popular players among his teammates, Gonzales was acquired from the Montreal Expos for catcher John Stefero in December 1986.

"There is a real weird feeling in my stomach," said Gonzales, who in four seasons here played shortstop only 13 times. "I sure had a lot of fun with the guys there, and leaving Baltimore isn't easy. I loved it there. Say hello to all the fans. They were great.

"But I'm happy, too. This will give me an opportunity to play everywhere and maybe get a long career established."

The Orioles feel protected in backup infielders with Tim Hulett, Jeff McKnight and Juan Bell, three players "who are capable and versatile with background at all positions," said Hemond.

Gonzales will have to battle Manny Lee and Eddie Zosky, the Blue Jays' first-round draft pick in 1989, for playing time at shortstop.

Roy Krasik, Orioles assistant director of player development and scouting, said Blumberg, 23, will be assigned to the Class AA Hagerstown Suns.

"He gets the ball over the plate with a good walk-to-strikeout ratio, and he knows what he's doing," said Krasik. "Hopefully, he can make Hagerstown, but we don't want to rush him in any event."

Blumberg, a 15th-round draft pick by Toronto in 1989, was 13-4 with a 2.16 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 129 innings for the Myrtle Beach Blue Jays of the Class A South Atlantic League last year. He also pitched briefly for the Knoxville Blue Jays of the Class AA Southern League.

* Glenn Davis postscript: After being the main (and sometimes only) slugger in the Houston Astros lineup, he says he is delighted to join a team that has hitters such as Ripken, Dwight Evans, Randy Milligan and Joe Orsulak before and after him.

"The last three years, nobody threw me a fastball," he said. "There were times when I'd be walked with nobody on base. I was walked intentionally six times in one series.

"As a hitter, I'm looking forward to this and I'm going to enjoy it the most I can."

* The Orioles vice president for stadium planning and development, Janet Marie Smith, will hold a slide-show presentation at Memorial Stadium next Wednesday.

Open to the public, the event will feature ballpark food from 5 p.m. until 6:15 p.m., followed by an overview of the new stadium.

Arbitration list

The major-league players who filed for salary arbitration (x-new-look free agent):

AMERICAN LEAGUE Baltimore (5) -- Glenn Davis, 1b; Joe Orsulak, of; Bill Ripken, 2b; Jeff Robinson, rhp; Mark Williamson, rhp.

Boston (8) -- Tom Brunansky, of; Ellis Burks, of; John Dopson, rhp; Mike Greenwell, of; Joe Hesketh, lhp; Randy Kutcher, of; Luis Rivera, ss; Kevin Romine, of.

California (10) -- Scott Bailes, lhp; Mark Eichhorn, rhp; Chuck Finley, lhp; Dave Gallagher, of; Bryan Harvey, rhp; Jack Howell, 3b; Wally Joyner, 1b; Kirk McCaskill, rhp; Luis Polonia, of; Max Venable, of.

Chicago (3) -- Dan Pasqua, of; Cory Snyder, of; Bobby Thigpen, rhp.

Cleveland (8) -- Jerry Browne, 2b; Tom Candiotti, rhp; John Farrell, rhp; Felix Fermin, ss; Chris James, of; Stan Jefferson, of; Eric King, rhp; Greg Swindell, lhp.

Detroit (7) -- Paul Gibson, lhp; Jerry Don Gleaton, lhp; Mike Henneman, rhp; x-Jack Morris, rhp; Dan Petry, rhp; Mark Salas, c; Mickey Tettleton, c.

Kansas City (7) -- Jim Eisenreich, of; Bo Jackson, of; Jeff Montgomery, rhp; Bill Pecota, 3b; Kevin Seitzer; 3b; Kurt Stillwell; ss; Danny Tartabull, of.

Milwaukee (6) -- Chris Bosio, rhp; Mike Felder, of; Jim Gantner, 2b; Mark Knudson, rhp; B.J. Surhoff, c; Dale Sveum, ss.

Minnesota (4) -- Allan Anderson, lhp; x-Gary Gaetti, 3b; Gene Larkin, 1b; Nelson Liriano, 2b.

New York (7) -- Greg Cadaret, lhp; Chuck Cary, lhp; Alvaro Espinoza, ss; Lee Guetterman, lhp; Roberto Kelly, of; Matt Nokes, c; Eric Plunk, rhp.

Oakland (3) -- Mark McGwire, 1b; Ernest Riles, 3b; Walt Weiss, ss.

Seattle (5) -- Henry Cotto, of; Mike Jackson, rhp; Tracy Jones, of; Bill Swift, rhp; Dave Valle, c.

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