Oates sees Voigt also in chase for outfield slot

Orioles notebook

February 24, 1993|By Peter Schmuck and Jim Henneman | Peter Schmuck and Jim Henneman,Staff Writers

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The competition for jobs in the Orioles outfield appears to be limited to right-field candidates Luis Mercedes, Chito Martinez and Rule V draftee Sherman Obando, but manager Johnny Oates has a caveat.

Don't count out Triple-A player Jack Voigt.

Voigt, who made a brief visit to the major leagues last year, does not figure to compete for the starting right-field job, but he is the kind of player Oates would like to have around when he needs to spell Brady Anderson in left.

Oates doesn't know Voigt that well, but he has been impressed with what he has seen and heard of him during the first few days of camp.

"I've never seen him play that much," Oates said, "but you sit and talk with him and see his actions on the field and you realize, 'Hey, this guy knows what's going on.' "

Gomez fired up

Third baseman Leo Gomez sat out the winter-league season for the first time in five years, and he's glad he did.

"I've played winter ball for five years," he said. "That makes a long season, especially when you're playing every day. This year, I was able to relax and be at home with my family. That has made me hungry to go to work this year."

Fall league

General manager Roland Hemond is not a big self-promoter, but he is a promoter of the new Arizona Fall League, which completed its first season last year.

"I don't like to talk about myself, but I was one of the proponents of that league," said Hemond, who thinks young players should play more. "I thought there was a need for that kind of league in the United States. I proposed it at a general managers meeting a few years ago and got a lot of backing from [former Giants GM] Al Rosen. The next year, everybody was for it."

The wisdom of such a league is obvious. Teams are able to put their top prospects into a competitive environment that is closer to home than the various winter leagues.

The Orioles took advantage of the fall league's inaugural season, sending promising pitchers Brad Pennington, John O'Donoghue and Jeff Williams as well as position players Damon Buford, Steve Scarsone and Mark Smith.

Braves scout visits camp

Hemond spotted Atlanta Braves scout Bill Lajoie among the crowd of spring training observers yesterday.

"Oh, I better go talk with him," said Hemond, rushing away. "They might have excess pitching."

Danger zone

The scariest part of yesterday's "one-eyed cat" game -- where first base is eliminated to restrict scoring and increase running -- was when three left-handed hitting pitchers -- Rick Sutcliffe, O'Donoghue and Arthur Rhodes -- had to face hard-throwing and erratic left-hander Brad Pennington.

One of Pennington's pitches sailed over Rhodes' head and sent him sprawling to the ground.

The biggest discovery of the day was that pitcher Alan Mills is a switch-hitter.

Three sign; six to go

Mercedes, Rhodes and Manny Alexander are the latest Orioles to sign contracts for the coming season.

Six players remain unsigned: catcher Chris Hoiles, pitcher Mike Mussina, infielders Gomez, David Segui and Doug Jennings, and outfielder Martinez.

It's reporting day

Position players are scheduled to report today, with the first full-squad workout tomorrow.

Besides the pitchers and catchers, six position players -- Gomez, Voigt, Martinez, Scarsone, utility infielder Tim Hulett and first baseman Glenn Davis -- are in camp.

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