Orioles shuffle moves Buford to Hagerstown

November 14, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff lZB

One day after they announced the signing of Glenn Davis to a two-year contract, the Orioles did a lot of paper work.

The result was a shuffling of rosters and a realignment of minor-league staff assignments. The most prominent moves involved the release of righthanded pitcher Jeff Robinson and the appointment of ex-Oriole Don Buford as manager for the Double A Hagerstown Suns.

Robinson and lefthander Brian DuBois were placed on waivers for the purpose of granting their unconditional release.

At the same time, the Orioles announced the promotion of five players and the signing of two minor-league free agents, one of whom will also be promoted to the major-league roster.

The new players, both from the Boston Red Sox system, are right-handed pitcher Eric Hetzel, 28, and righthanded-hitting catcher Todd Pratt, 24. Hetzel, who won his last five decisions and finished 9-5 with a 3.57 earned run average at Triple A Pawtucket, was signed to a major-league contract. Pratt played 68 games (219 at-bats), hit 11 home runs and drove in 41 runs for the same team.

Three of the five players the Orioles promoted to their major-league roster, which is now one under the 40-man limit, are pitchers who figure more in the future than the present.

Righthander Richie Lewis, 25, obtained from Montreal last summer in the trade for former No. 1 draft pick (1987) Chris Myers, was 8-5 with three different minor-league teams last year, including a 1-0 mark with a 2.81 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 16 innings with Rochester.

Mike Oquist, 23, also a righthander, was 10-9 with a 4.06 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 166 innings at Hagerstown. Lefthander Brad Pennington, 22, is perhaps the most intriguing of the three additions to the pitching staff. Used last year strictly as a reliever, Pennington has 324 strikeouts in 237 innings in three years, but has not yet pitched above Single A because of wildness (264 walks).

The position players promoted to the Orioles' roster are both shortstops -- Manny Alexander, 20, and Ricky Gutierrez, 21, who is also being groomed as a second baseman. Alexander hit .261, with 47 stolen bases, for Single A Frederick last year, while Gutierrez hit .236 at Hagerstown and .306 in a brief stint at Rochester, stealing 15 bases in 16 attempts overall.

None of those added to the Orioles' roster figure in plans for the coming year, which was also obviously the case with Robinson and DuBois. Robinson, obtained in the Mickey Tettleton trade last winter, was 4-9 with a 5.18 ERA before being demoted to Rochester, where he was 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA.

DuBois was traded to Detroit late in the 1989 season for Keith Moreland and made a late-season splurge with the Tigers. Following an elbow injury the following year, he was reacquired by the Orioles and spent all of last year on the disabled list. DuBois was assigned to the club's Instructional League team this fall, but his progress was not deemed sufficient to warrant a spot on the major-league roster.

At the minor-league level, the only surprising announcement involved Buford. He had been director of field operations for the last three years, after serving briefly on Frank Robinson's coaching staff in 1988. Buford was relieved of those duties two months ago.

"Don has always expressed a desire to manage," said assistant general manager Doug Melvin, who made both decisions. "And he might be better suited to running one team rather than the whole minor-league operation."

Jerry Narron, who has managed at Hagerstown the last two years after breaking in at Frederick, is the new manager at Rochester. Steve Luebber, who served as Narron's pitching coach with the Suns last year, will accompany him. They replace Greg Biagini and Dick Bosman, who moved up to the Orioles' coaching staff.

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