Fan favorite's comeback is a long shot, but he could provide backup.


January 17, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

Rick Dempsey will attempt to finish his career where he enjoyed the most success.

One of the all-time favorite players during his 10 1/2 years in an Oriole uniform, Dempsey has been invited to the Orioles' spring training camp as a non-roster player.

Dempsey, 42, is one of only two players (Carlton Fisk is the other) who has caught in the big leagues in four different decades. After leaving the Orioles as a free agent in 1986, he played a year in Cleveland, then spent three years with the Dodgers before going to Milwaukee, where he hit .231 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 61 games last year.

Dempsey will be a long shot to stick with the Orioles this season but is viewed as an insurance policy should Jeff Tackett require another year at Triple-A.

"The situation is much the same as it was with Mike Flanagan last year," Oriole general manager Roland Hemond said today. "We have no commitment to Rick, but we also know you're better off if you have some depth at the catching position.

"Rick expressed a desire to come back, and we're pleased he still has the desire to play. He can still throw, and he still drives the ball on occasion."

Last season, Chris Hoiles split the catching duties with Bob Melvin, who was traded to Kansas City for pitcher Storm Davis. Hoiles, the projected starter, Tackett and Dempsey all are right-handed hitters.

The highlight of Dempsey's career came in 1983, when he was named the Most Valuable Player as the Orioles won the World Series.

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