NEW YORK -- For the second time this season, Rick Dempsey has been beaten out of an Orioles roster spot by an up-and-coming catcher.
This time it's Mark Parent, who last night was promoted from Triple-A Rochester after hitting .281 with 17 home runs for the Red Wings.
Dempsey, 42, who had gone to spring training as a non-roster invitee, lost out to Jeff Tackett in his bid to win the backup catching job behind Chris Hoiles to open the season. He stayed with the club as an "instructor," primarily to be available in case of an emergency.
When Hoiles suffered a broken right wrist after being hit by a pitch thrown by the Yankees' Tim Leary on June 20, Dempsey was activated the next day. But he made only one start and appeared in just eight games. He went 1-for-8.
His continued inactivity, plus a prolonged recuperation period for Hoiles, prompted the Orioles to make the move. "It's not an easy thing to do," said manager Johnny Oates.
Dempsey expressed disappointment with the move, but showed none of the bitterness that accompanied his last separation from the club following the 1986 season.
"It hurts me deeply," said Dempsey, "but I'm thankful that I got a chance to come back and play a game in that ballpark and see all the fans again as an active player. I love those people in Baltimore like you can't believe.
"I'm just sorry I can't help them go down the stretch and be a World Series hero again. I'm sorry it didn't work out that way."
Parent, 31, will join the club in time for today's day-night doubleheader against the Red Sox in Boston. Oates said last night that Parent probably would catch the second game, when Richie Lewis, also coming up from Rochester, is scheduled to pitch.
"This was really out of Rick's hands," Oates said. "It certainly wasn't his fault that he didn't get to play more. I'm the manager and I have to make those decisions. But this gives us a guy who has been playing, catching and hitting well."
Parent is getting the shot because Hoiles' recuperation has taken longer than expected. He was expected to miss four to six weeks, but now it appears he'll need eight weeks before he's back in the lineup, perhaps by mid-August. His rehabilitation program was put on hold last week when X-rays showed the wrist fracture had apparently shifted. However, X-rays on Wednesday showed that the wrist is healing well.
Formally, the Orioles have requested waivers on Dempsey for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. Unless he is claimed by another team, Dempsey is likely to return to his former role, with the possibility of being activated again in September, when rosters are expanded to 40.
"Waivers won't expire until Wednesday," said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond. "If nobody claims Rick, we'd like him to remain with us in the role he had before."
Dempsey, who lives in California, said he is considering establishing his residence full time in Baltimore. "I've talked about it with my wife [Joanie], and we've given it some thought.
"Somebody that's in a pennant race might want to pick me up," he said. "If I get an offer from somebody in contention, I would take it and finish out the season with them, and then see what the Orioles have in mind this winter."
In the meantime Parent, who initially finished behind Dempsey in the spring battle for the No. 2 catching job, moves into the backup role.
Parent said he was confused when the Orioles activated Dempsey after Hoiles was hurt. "I didn't understand why they would make a deal with someone like that, but I've played in the big leagues," he said. "I know what it's like and I want it to continue."
Parent had an agreement with the Orioles that if another major-league team showed interest, they would not stand in his way.
"Every day I was going out trying to impress other teams because I thought that's where my future might be, and it still might be," Parent said.