Two Orioles all excited about star potential Olson, Hoiles game to play in classic

July 03, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Chris Hoiles and Gregg Olson have good reasons to avoid dwelling on their chances of being selected to the All-Star Game.

Both, however, are viable candidates to give the Orioles as many as four representatives on the American League team for the game to be played at Camden Yards on July 13. Cal Ripken is a lock to be the starting shortstop. And Mike Mussina, despite his two-week slump, still might have a chance to be named to the pitching staff if he wins his final start before the All-Star break.

It was a little over a year ago that Hoiles was powering himself into All-Star consideration, when Tim Leary's fastball struck his right wrist and he went on the disabled list. "That's one reason not to think about it," Hoiles said.

Olson's reason is just as basic. "Don't get your hopes too high -- so you won't be crushed [if not selected]," he said.

It's difficult, however, for Hoiles and Olson to ignore the possibilities of being named to the All-Star team.

"Sometimes I think about it," admitted Hoiles, whose chances probably hinge on being added as a third catcher behind Ivan Rodriguez and Mickey Tettleton. "But to tell you the truth, I really don't know much about what the other guys [catchers] are doing.

"Right now I'm about the same as I was last year. I had 14 home runs and was hitting .274 [actually, .280] when I got hurt."

Hoiles has 14 homers, a .298 average and 34 RBI, six more than he had at the break a year ago. "It would be nice to be selected and play," he said, "but if I'm not, I'll just try to continue going the way I have been and hope I can contribute.

"What would make it special is the fact that the game's being played at home. That would be exciting, getting picked for the first time and having the game in our park."

Hoiles doesn't have the name association yet to rank among the top vote-getters at his position. But that isn't likely to carry much weight with Cito Gaston, who will manage the American League team. The vote totals are used as a guideline in filling out the rosters, but the managers are not bound by the results. With three catchers certain to be named, Hoiles should have a reasonable chance to make the team.

An even stronger case can be made for Olson, who was named to the AL team in 1990 but didn't participate in the game at Wrigley Field. He is tied with two others for second in the American League with 22 saves. Orioles manager Johnny Oates said Olson's statistics rank him ahead of all other closers.

"If you look at his numbers across the board -- saves, ERA, hits to innings pitched -- he's better than the rest of them," said Oates. "He and Mussina were both on my list [of 10 pitchers that managers were asked to submit for consideration]. I don't think there's any question he deserves it, but he could be hurt in cases where a reliever is a team's best candidate."

That could be the case with Kansas City's Jeff Montgomery and Boston's Jeff Russell. "But this could be a year when it might not be bad to have four or five of those guys," said Oates.

"I try not to think about it, because it's too far out of my hands," said Olson. "But it's hard not to hope. I think it would be great to play in it at home."

Olson's ERA is far superior to any of the other top closers. Here are the AL save leaders, listing in order of saves: Montgomery (23, 2.03), Olson (22, 1.35), Toronto's Duane Ward (22, 2.04), Minnesota's Rick Aguilera (22, 2.05), New York's Steve Farr (18, 3.67), Seattle's Norm Charlton (16, 2.48), Boston's Russell (16, 1.88) and Oakland's Dennis Eckersley (16, 4.31).

Unlike Hoiles, Olson admits to keeping tabs on the competition from time to time.

"Yeah, I peek [at the statistics] a little bit, just to see how everybody else is doing," said Olson.

His 12 straight save conversions, 18 in his past 19 opportunities and 22 of 25 overall (88 percent) have attracted enough attention to at least attract All-Star consideration.

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