Change carries positive ring for Pagliarulo Newest Oriole won Series the last time he was traded

August 17, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- The last time Mike Pagliarulo changed uniforms, he ended up in the World Series. The Orioles can only hope it wasn't just a coincidence.

The veteran third baseman, acquired from the Minnesota Twins for minor-league pitcher Erik Schullstrom on Sunday, joined the club before last night's game against the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome. He also expressed the hope that history might repeat itself.

"I'm back in a pennant race," said Pagliarulo, who entered in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter and walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run in the Orioles' 8-6 loss. "I've been in a few of them before. I can't help but be excited. We'll see what happens, but the goal for me is to put another ring on my finger, and I'm going to do whatever it takes."

It's going to take more than one player to set the Orioles right. The team has lost seven consecutive games and a handful of key players to injury at an inopportune time, so general manager Roland Hemond went for help. He came back with a solid left-handed hitter who had batted .292 in 83 games this season.

Pagliarulo, 33, is a nine-year major-league veteran who hit 32 home runs for the New York Yankees in 1987. He has not been a big power guy the past few years, but he is a solid defensive player who adds some left-right balance to the Orioles' roster.

The Orioles originally announced that the deal was for a player to be named, but it was finalized yesterday when Schullstrom, 24, was sent to the Twins.

So, in a sense, history already has repeated itself. Schullstrom (5-10 with 4.27 ERA at Bowie) was the minor-league pitcher who was traded for left-hander Craig Lefferts last August. That deal did not pay tremendous dividends for the Orioles (Lefferts went 1-3), but the club reacquired Schullstrom on waivers from the San Diego Padres earlier this season.

This one is a no-lose proposition. The Orioles have been using Tim Hulett at third base in place of injured Leo Gomez, so Pagliarulo will provide depth and -- perhaps -- replace Hulett at third against some right-handed pitchers. The way things stand, he doesn't figure to displace anyone in the everyday lineup.

Manager Johnny Oates wondered aloud Sunday whether Pagliarulo could play some at first base, since David Segui began a three-day suspension last night. Rookie Jack Voigt started at first and Pagliarulo replaced him in the eighth but had no fielding chances.

Oates met with Pagliarulo to discuss his role, including the possibility of playing some first base.

"He mentioned it," Pagliarulo said. "I said, 'If you need me to play there, I'll play there.' With the Twins in spring training, TK [Twins manager Tom Kelly] used everybody all over the place, but the last time I played first base in a regular-season game was with the Yankees [in 1987]."

It seems most likely that Pagliarulo will provide the Orioles with some experience on the bench, where they have been getting by almost entirely with rookies since Hulett and Mark McLemore entered the lineup.

Pagliarulo is just happy for the opportunity to compete for another division title. The Twins are in sixth place in the American League West and have little hope of getting back into the race.

"No matter what kind of team you're on, you acquire friends," he said. "I ran into a lot of good people in Minnesota. I made some real good friends there and played some good baseball, so there is good and bad in everything."

The Twins figured to unload some players, but the deal came as a surprise to Pagliarulo, since his name was not prominent among the late-season trade rumors that have surfaced the past few weeks.

"You always talk about the possibilities," he said, "but when it happens, it's still a surprise. I didn't hear anything about me. They were all talking about Jim Deshaies and Shane Mack."

He is looking forward to playing regularly at Camden Yards, but he isn't looking much farther ahead than that. He is signed through the end of the year, but remains under "repeater rights" and can be retained by the Orioles with an offer of salary arbitration.

"To be honest, I don't even want to talk about that," he said. "I'd XTC like to concentrate on what's going on right now. That's no concern of mine. I want to concentrate on what I can do this year."

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