Obando's power hard to ignore

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

February 26, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Last year, when Sherman Obando put on a batting practice exhibition like he did here yesterday, it drew a lot of attention. This time, it goes unnoticed.

Almost.

"He put on a show," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "It was just like last year. He wasn't hitting them onto the grass [behind the fence], he hit them into the parking lot.

"He had a couple of guys who didn't know who he was 'oohing and aahing,' " said Oates. "Jim Poole wasn't trying to get him out, he was just laying the ball in there -- but it was still an impressive performance."

Obando drew attention last year because he was a Rule V draftee and had to be kept on the major-league roster or offered back to the New York Yankees, his original team. He is not under the same restriction this year, and probably will play for Triple-A Rochester. Obando appeared in 31 games for the Orioles last season, batting .272 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

Three signings

The Orioles signed three more of their young players, only one of whom has a chance to make the club this year.

Left-hander Brad Pennington, who is bidding for a spot in the bullpen, rookie right-hander Armando Benitez and rookie outfielder Alex Ochoa agreed to terms. Pennington was 3-2 with a 6.55 ERA in 34 games with the Orioles last year.

Benitez and Ochoa were cited as the pitcher and player of the year, respectively, in the Orioles' minor-league system last season. Benitez was a combined 8-1 for Single-A Albany and Frederick. He had an overall 1.34 ERA, 18 saves and 112 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Ochoa spent the year with Frederick, hitting .276 with 13 home runs, 90 RBIs and 34 stolen bases.

The signings leave the Orioles with seven players not under contract: pitchers Mike Mussina, Arthur Rhodes and Poole, outfielders Jeffrey Hammonds, Damon Buford and Jack Voigt and infielder Manny Alexander.

Eighty-eight's enough

Negotiations between Rene Gonzales and Paul Carey over the right to wear uniform No. 88 appear to be stalled, but haven't broken down completely. Talks are expected to resume within 24 hours.

Gonzales is claiming the number because he was the first Oriole to wear it. Carey is relying on the theory that possession is nine-tenths of the law and he owns squatter's rights.

After coming to the Orioles from Montreal in 1987, Gonzales asked for No. 88 because he had worn No. 8, and that was unavailable for obvious reasons. When Carey came to camp last year, Gonzales was with the Angels, and he requested No. 88 because Cal Ripken is his favorite player, and two eights were BTC better than none.

Both sides are hoping for a quick resolution of the issue.

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