Hulett's numbers send Gomez to bench for day

Orioles notebook

April 28, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Third baseman Leo Gomez has been one of the Orioles' most consistent hitters, but he was not in the lineup against right-hander Jack McDowell last night.

Gomez has one hit in six career at-bats against McDowell, who has not had the same kind of success against backup third baseman Tim Hulett.

"Tim is hitting .500 lifetime against McDowell," manager Johnny Oates explained, "so I thought it was a good day to get Gomez a day off."

Hulett entered the game with seven hits in 13 career at-bats against the White Sox starter, which actually works out to a .538 average.

But it was hardly a no-confidence vote for Gomez, who has hit safely in 11 of his 14 games. His .318 batting average is the highest in the Orioles' everyday lineup.

"He's swinging well," Oates said, "but I think that has something to do with who he's swinging against. I'm trying to match him up against the people he plays well against."

Gomez is enjoying his fast start, though that enjoyment has been tempered by the lengthy slump that has dropped the Orioles into the American League East cellar.

"I'm seeing the ball good," he said. "I've been more relaxed this year, trying to get my swing back."

The rest of the club might do well to take the same approach. The Orioles have been very unproductive in clutch situations, which might be an indication that they are putting too much pressure on themselves.

"When you try to do too much, you can't do anything," Gomez said. "I think we need to relax and start playing the way we played last year. When we win two or three in a row, we'll relax and everything will be all right."

Fernando revisited

Fernando Valenzuela will make his Camden Yards debut on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.

Oates said before Monday night's game that Valenzuela's start Saturday did not hinge on his performance against the Chicago White Sox Monday. He did not change his mind overnight. In fact, he seemed more positive about Valenzuela yesterday.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Oates said again. "He has thrown well for me every time I've seen him except against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Even in Texas, I thought it was just a matter of overthrowing."

Hoiles drops in order

Catcher Chris Hoiles was hitting eighth yesterday, another move that Oates had no trouble backing up with statistical analysis.

"He has struck out 12 times in his last seven games," Oates said.

It's actually worse than that. Hoiles had struck out 16 times in his last 36 at-bats before last night.

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