Oates pleased with Hoiles-Tackett duo Seeks AAA help behind the plate

December 13, 1991|By Kent Baker Peter Schmuck of The Sun's sports staff contributed to this article.

Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates said last night that he would be comfortable entering next season with Chris Hoiles and Jeff Tackett as his two catchers.

But Oates would like to acquire another catcher to work at the Class AAA level in case those two don't work out.

"We don't have a lot of depth in our organization," he said. "We may have to look for another guy."

The situation was created late Wednesday night when the Orioles traded Bob Melvin to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Storm Davis, leaving Hoiles the top receiver entering spring training.

"I wouldn't complain if Hoiles and Tackett are our two catchers Opening Day," Oates said from his Virginia home. "Based on experience, Hoiles would have to go in as the No. 1 guy, but I'm not going to eliminate Tackett from the job.

"Hoiles has always been an offensive player, and I don't have any problem giving him a chance to catch every day. He's in the best shape of his life right now."

General manager Roland Hemond also said that acquiring a veteran backup is not a priority.

"We've been anxious to expand Chris Hoiles' stature," Hemond said. "That's what we started to do last year. Tackett is similar to Melvin. He is a good receiver, and John [Oates] was impressed with the way he ran the ballgame."

After a slow start, Hoiles batted .243 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 107 games last season. His most noticeable improvement was on defense, where he made only one error in 477 chances and threw out 24 of 73 runners attempting to steal.

Tackett impressed the manager with his desire to improve during a late-season stint with the Orioles.

"He did a great job of paying attention and learning, asking ques

tions in the dugout," said Oates. "A lot of times you can tell a lot about a guy watching him when he's not playing."

Tackett batted only eight times, getting one hit, with the Orioles after hitting .236 with the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings.

The Orioles also have infielder Tim Hulett, who can catch in an emergency, but Oates said he would be used only "to finish a game."

Mike Eberle, the Red Wings' other catcher, hit .178 last season. Another prospect is Doug Robbins, who hit .304 for the Class AA Hagerstown Suns.

The Orioles lost catching prospect Todd Pratt to the Philadelphia Phillies this week in the Rule V draft. Pratt had been signed from the Boston Red Sox organization as a six-year minor-league free agent in November.

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