Palmeiro, Clark ease tension

March 27, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer Staff writer Mark Hyman contributed to this article.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Four old friends took a break from their pre-game outfield sprints yesterday and gathered in center field for a chat.

Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers and former teammate Rafael Palmeiro of the Orioles were rehashing old times when a relative outsider ran into the middle of the pack and extended his hand.

Palmeiro returned the gesture and shared a handshake with Will Clark, clutching the same hand he bit with harsh words during the winter, words taken back by a public apology, but not forgotten.

"We didn't say much," Palmeiro said. "We talked a little bit. But that's personal stuff."

Clark offered even less insight.

"I'm not touching that subject," Clark said. "Let it alone. It'll die."

The Texas Rangers, Clark's new team, and the Orioles, Palmeiro's new club, face each other six times in the teams' first 11 games.

If yesterday's exhibition game, a 3-1 Orioles victory, was any indication, both first basemen will play prominent roles.

Palmeiro, who did not make last week's trip to Port Charlotte to play the Rangers, doubled off the wall in right field, singled, and flied out in three trips. Clark also went 2-for-3 and improved his spring totals against the Orioles to 6-for-8.

"He's on a mission against us," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said after Clark's first hit.

Clark improved his spring batting average to .389. Both of his home runs came against the Orioles last week.

Palmeiro improved his average to .229. A strong wind cheated him of what would have been his fourth home run of the exhibition season.

Several former teammates wished Palmeiro well.

"It's a good feeling because I feel like the guys really respected what I did," he said. "One reason you play the game is to be respected by your peers. Those guys were like brothers to me."

Palmeiro harbors distinctly different feelings toward Rangers management.

"I'll never forget what they did to me, but it's over now and it's time to play baseball," Palmeiro said.

Oquist stays strong

Mike Oquist pitched four shutout innings and Alan Mills three. Brad Pennington pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save. He struck out Gonzalez, who represented the tying run, for the save. Only Jim Poole (9.64 ERA) allowed a run.

Oquist lowered his ERA to 1.84 in the Orioles' third straight victory and 10th in 13 games. They improved their record to 12-12.

A doctor in the house

Team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs will examine disabled pitchers Sid Fernandez and Kevin McGehee today.

Fernandez is not eligible to come off the disabled list until one week into the season. The earliest the Orioles hope for Fernandez to be activated is April 17 at Texas.

"He's progressing nicely, but we're not going to push him," Hemond said.

Alexander to branch out

Upon coming off the disabled list, Orioles shortstop prospect Manny Alexander will work out some at second base, assistant general manager Doug Melvin said.

The move serves many purposes. Alexander is out of options next season. Cal Ripken is signed through 1997 and Mark McLemore is eligible for free agency after this season.

Learning to play more than one position also would make Alexander a candidate for the utility infield job next season.

High-profile board

Owner Peter Angelos said he has not finalized plans for the Orioles' board of directors yet. But he revealed the names of some high-profile members.

In addition to the Orioles' investors, each of whom will have a seat, the panel will be joined by journalist George Will, TV and radio interviewer Larry King, former Orioles president Larry Lucchino and actor Tom Selleck, a close friend of part-owner Tom Clancy's.

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: St. Louis Cardinals

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 1:05 p.m.

TV: Channel 13, 20

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

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