Bell, Mercedes finally get in work

March 01, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

SARASOTA -- Juan Bell and Luis Mercedes, the last two Orioles to report for spring training, worked out for the first time yesterday.

They arrived from the Dominican Republic late Friday.

Though both missed the first two full-squad workouts, they were not obligated to report until the mandatory date, this Wednesday.

Club officials were not visibly upset over their delayed arrival.

Bell's sister was married earlier in the week, and he was a participant in the wedding. Mercedes, who had a long winter-league season, encountered a minor visa problem.

"If I was Juan's mother, I would want him there for the sister's wedding," said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond. "I can understand that -- my son is getting married tomorrow [today], so you won't see me around.

"Luis apparently went to pick up his visa on the wrong day and had to make a return trip before he could leave," Hemond said. "You'd always rather have everybody here when you start, but he's played a lot of baseball this winter, so the delay shouldn't bother him."

Mercedes, who will compete for the job as the Orioles leadoff hitter, led the Dominican League with a .333 average -- 36 points higher than his closest challenger.

He also led the league in games (48), hits (57), runs (35), walks (35), total bases (69) and stolen bases (18), and he was second in on-base percentage at .457, a figure certain to get the attention of manager John Oates.

"If I get the opportunity, I think I'm ready to play up here," said Mercedes. "But, I have to win a job."

Bell, who played a limited role a year ago, again will compete for a job as utility infielder, and could be hard-pressed to earn a roster spot.

Oates has said that keeping only one reserve infielder (Tim Hulett) is an option to resolve the numbers crunch on the 40-man roster.

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