Orioles, Hoiles hope to scuff up Leary in Seattle

August 28, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Here's that villain again, only this time he's in a Seattle Mariners uniform.

That, however, doesn't make Tim Leary any less wicked to the Orioles.

When the Orioles start a nine-game West Coast road trip tonight in Seattle, they will face Leary. The last time they saw him, he was with the New York Yankees, and they were convinced he was illegally scuffing baseballs on sandpaper hidden in his mouth. One ball struck catcher Chris Hoiles on his right wrist and broke it.

That was on June 21 in Baltimore. The Orioles' pitcher that night, just as it will be tonight, was Ben McDonald (12-9). Leary (5-6) was traded by the Yankees to the Mariners last week.

The Orioles, Hoiles in particular, are still annoyed with Leary. Although a package of scuffed balls was sent to American League president Bobby Brown as evidence of Leary's alleged cheating, he got off with only a reprimand.

To the Orioles, that seems grossly unfair, since Hoiles missed two months of the season. Had the ball not been scuffed, it wouldn't have darted in unpredictably and hit his wrist, they say.

"I'm still a little angry that nothing happened to Leary," Randy Milligan said. "Instead of suspending him, all the league did was slap his wrist."

Hoiles, meanwhile, is still working to recover his batting stroke. In Wednesday night's come-from-behind win over the California Angels, he hit his 15th home run -- but first since June 16.

"I'm upset with what he did," Hoiles said. "I don't cheat. It's not like I do anything to my bats so I can hit the ball farther.

"I'm not going to retaliate, but I'll be pumped up when I step in against him. I'll be ready this time. I know he did it the first time, I just know it, and even though the proof was sent to the league he was declared not guilty.

"I hope we score a lot of runs and kill him. I hope we knock him out in the first inning. He'd better not be scuffing balls again."

It wasn't until his seventh game back that Hoiles drove in his first run. It wasn't until his eighth that he struck his first home run.

"At first I came back and tried to do too much," Hoiles said. "It took me a while to realize I couldn't do it all at once."

His inability to do that also can be blamed on Leary.Hoiles went on the disabled list with large numbers, 14 homers and 27 RBI in only a little more than two months.

After three games in Seattle, the Orioles will play three in Oakland and three in California. They were 5-4 on their first West Coast trip this year and will attempt to post their first winning record in the three cities combined since 1987, when they were 12-6.

"Five wins on this trip would be great and six would be tremendous," Milligan said. "We need to win every series. The games in Seattle will be big, but we can't put too much emphasis on them because if we do that and lose, it could take the wind out of our sails."

The Orioles begin the series in high spirits, based on two straight wins over the Angels that put them within 2 1/2 games of the Toronto Blue Jays, the American League East leaders. In the second victory, Milligan and Mike Devereaux each hit two home runs, Hoiles one.

"I hope those two wins will be steppingstones to wins on the road," Devereaux said. "We need a winning road trip."

After the McDonald-Leary matchup, Arthur Rhodes (4-4) will oppose Mark Grant (2-3) tomorrow night. The 22-year-old Rhodes, after a 4-0 start following his recall from Triple-A Rochester, has lost four straight.

Manager Johnny Oates maintains that he isn't displeased with Rhodes and that he is pitching far better than during his term with the club last year. Only his command, his control, is lacking.

In Sunday's series finale, it'll be age against youth, 36-year-old Rick Sutcliffe (13-11) against 22-year-old rookie Dave Fleming (15-5).

Sutcliffe will rejoin the club from Kansas City, where he went for his mother's funeral after a magnificent four-hit, eight-inning effort in Tuesday's 9-1 win over California.

Fleming, who led Georgia into the 1990 College World Series, had only 33 minor-league appearances before making his debut with the Mariners last August.

It was an unusual one. He had been promoted to Triple-A Calgary and was en route there when he was notified while changing planes in Dallas that the Mariners needed him right away because another pitcher, Keith Comstock, was hurt.

Fleming's debut consisted of one-third of an inning without retiring a batter. An inherited runner was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.

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