No. 1 pick Hammonds comes to play

July 11, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Jeffrey Hammonds has some of the important things about life in Baltimore down pat already.

Namely, the Orioles' first-round draft choice in June's amateur draft has tasted the Maryland crab cake and can successfully get the meat out of a crab claw.

"I can work it, I can work it," the Stanford outfielder said yesterday during a meeting with local media.

For now, Hammonds, a member of the U.S. Olympic baseball team, which will meet the Korean national team in an exhibition before today's Orioles-Minnesota Twins game, is more interested in how he will do in Barcelona than in Baltimore.

"I really haven't been focused to do what I have to do. I haven't done anything so far, and I'm really lucky to be on this [Olympic] team," Hammonds said. "From here on out, I'm not going to think of anything else."

Hammonds said he has been distracted with thoughts of academics and contracts and the like during the national team's 30-game exhibition series.

As a result, his .224 batting average during the series with two homers and 10 RBI in 17 games hasn't been up to his standards, or even up to his career .353 batting average at Stanford.

"I've just been slumping. I'm making a lot of little things major rather major things smaller," Hammonds said.

"He's been handling it well. He's had a long year, what with academics and other things. Players go through things. I was a player, and you go through a time when a ball looks like an aspirin," said Hammonds' older brother, Reggie, his representative in negotiations with the Orioles.

Reggie Hammonds said he will meet with Gary Nickels, the Orioles director of scouting, during the weekend to talk about a contract. He said he was "very positive" something would happen "very soon."

Jeffrey Hammonds, who batted .262 last summer as a member of the U.S. Pan-American Games team said he knows many eyes will be trained on him while he's here, and the expectations may be as high as the weekend's heat and humidity.

"That's in the back of my mind. This is a major-league ballpark, and God knows if I'll ever get here," Hammonds said. "But I'm not going to go out and act like a kid. I'm not going to go out there and feel like I have to do something special to impress everyone."

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