Oates, too, suspects new park gives White Sox a high-tech edge

Orioles notes

August 04, 1991|By Peter Schmuck nTC | Peter Schmuck nTC,Sun Staff Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The first time the Baltimore Orioles visited Comiskey Park, Frank Robinson raised questions about the Chicago White Sox and their supposedly advanced surveillance technology.

Nothing has changed.

Manager John Oates voiced the same concerns yesterday and speculated that the White Sox have sign-stealing cameras positioned all over their new ballpark.

"I got a recorded message last night when I got back from the game," Oates said. "It said: 'John, change your signs every inning. Change your signs because they're picking up your signs.' I've heard the voice before, but I'm still trying to place it. Maybe it was [Oakland manager] Tony La Russa."

Oates said that the proof was in Tim Raines' third-inning stolen base on Friday night. Raines broke for second on a Ben McDonald curveball and ended up at third when the ball bounced past catcher Bob Melvin.

"Their first-base coach said 'curveball' to Raines and he went," Oates said. "Milligan came in and said that they had our signs.

"I know they have a camera on me, and I know they have a camera on Cal [third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr.]. We know they have the technology to do it, so we have to adjust. We have a

few gimmicks for them, too."

The White Sox video room, which is just a few yards down the tunnel from the home dugout, has been the focus of the Orioles' suspicion since Oates accidentally stumbled upon it during the club's first visit and told Robinson about it.

White Sox manager Jeff Torborg, who is a close friend of both Robinson and Oates, just smiles when he hears these charges. He has heard them a few times before. Perhaps the mere suspicion is as useful as the crime.

"Cameras?" he said. "What cameras? I don't know about any cameras."

The White Sox are ripe for such charges because they have a brand new ballpark and a state-of-the-art video system, but the sign-stealing controversy goes back to last year, when the Orioles detected coach Joe Nossek talking to Torborg by walkie-talkie from the stands at Memorial Stadium.

The Orioles will be the next team to move into a new ballpark, but Oates is not saying whether the club will try to play spy vs. spy next year.

"I can't reveal that," Oates said, "but I know that our video room will be a lot closer to the dugout than it is now."

Ballard, Kilgus rocked

Left-hander Jeff Ballard gave up 10 hits over five innings in his first start for the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings, though he was not charged with the 6-3 loss to the Toledo Mud Hens.

Reliever Paul Kilgus also pitched in the game and also was ineffective, giving up four hits and two runs over 1 2/3 innings.

Davis to be examined again

First baseman Glenn Davis may return to either New York or Los Angeles for a final consultation with his doctors before a decision is made about his return from the disabled list.

"We want to have the doctors look at him," Oates said. "We want to make sure there is no chance for reinjury."

Davis continues to progress in his recovery from the neck injury that has cost him most of the 1991 season. He took batting practice during regular pregame warm-ups last night and is throwing freely.

"I know that physically, he's coming along," Oates said, "but we want to make sure he's completely healed."

Williamson looks for work

Reliever Mark Williamson is hoping that he isn't fading into the background in the Orioles bullpen. He has only three appearances in the Orioles' past 17 games.

"I've been up [in the bullpen] a lot but warming up is a lot different than facing hitters," said Williamson, who made a very brief appearance in Friday night's game. "It's hard to get into a mental rhythm or a physical rhythm when you don't pitch much."

The situation could get worse, because the club is eager to see how newcomers Jim Poole and Stacy Jones respond to major-league situations. Both could take innings that used to go to Williamson.

"I'm sure they will," Williamson said. "I have no qualms about that. But I'm getting slightly oxidized."


Orioles set record

The Orioles set a club record when five pitchers combined to shut out the White Sox on Friday night. The previous record was four, accomplished once before 1991 and equaled twice this year.

Four pitchers shut out the Texas Rangers, 3-0, on April 12 and four combined to no-hit the Oakland Athletics on July 13, tying a major-league record for most pitchers to combine on a no-hit performance.

Williamson and Gregg Olson appeared in both of those games as well as the game Friday night.

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