Top pick Hammonds willing to help Orioles in stretch if they want him BARCELONA '92

July 26, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

BARCELONA SPAIN — BARCELONA, Spain -- If asked, he will serve.

That's the message No. 1 draft pick and center fielder Jeffrey Hammonds left yesterday for the Orioles. Hammonds, a member of the U.S. Olympic baseball team, said he would play if the Orioles needed himduring a late-season pennant drive.

"Now, if the Orioles need a fresh pair of legs, then I'm an option. And if they want me, I would go," said Hammonds, who on July 11 signed a contract worth $975,000 per year, the biggest contract ever given to a college draft pick.

"We have never talked about it and, hopefully, by the time the Olympics are over, the Orioles will be five games up on Toronto," said Hammonds. "I'd prefer to rest. I've been playing baseball every day for nearly a year."

It is extremely unlikely the Orioles will call on Hammonds because he then would become available for the expansion draft in November. He was signed to a minor-league contract so the Orioles wouldn't have to waste a roster spot to protect him.

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