More versatile? Alexander isn't seconding motion

April 07, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Manny Alexander wants to get to the major leagues and he wants to play shortstop, but in order to reach the first goal, he might have to table the second.

The organization plans to use him some at second base for Triple-A Rochester, an idea that does not appeal to Alexander.

"I don't want to, but if they put me there I have to," Alexander said. "I never played second base in my life. I'm a shortstop."

Alexander, who had a skin tumor removed from his leg early in spring training, leaves for extended spring training in Florida on Saturday, where he is scheduled to remain for about two weeks before being assigned to Rochester.

Alexander is out of options after this year. If Mark McLemore, a potential free agent, does not re-sign with the Orioles, Alexander's best ticket to the majors would be as a second baseman.

If McLemore stays, then Alexander appears destined for a utility job, unless he is traded.

"Utility?" Alexander said. "I never played third base. I never played second. I think I can play shortstop for another team if they trade me. This is a hard team for me to be with because everybody knows Cal Ripken is the best shortstop in baseball."

Assistant general manager Doug Melvin points to McLemore's willingness to play right field in 1993 as an example for Alexander to follow.

"Mark McLemore could have said he didn't want to go out to the outfield, but he did and look at where he is now, back at second," Melvin said. "Jose Oquendo was a shortstop. St. Louis traded for him when it looked like Ozzie Smith wasn't going to re-sign and here it is five years later and Ozzie's still there. When it comes down to it, players are willing to do what it takes to get to the big leagues.

"There is no question Manny is a major-league shortstop. If he plays some second, that doesn't mean he won't be back at shortstop."

Rain, rain go away

As the afternoon skies threatened yesterday, Orioles manager Johnny Oates thought of a question he could not answer.

Who would have started Monday's road opener in Detroit?

Yesterday's game would have been rescheduled for today, and McDonald would have started. Jamie Moyer, Mike Mussina, and Arthur Rhodes would have remained in rotation this weekend against Texas, but Oates would have been left without a starter for Monday.

"I would be up for a long time tonight trying to think of something," Oates said.

He would have had to go with a committee of relievers, which would have thrown his bullpen plans out of line, or called up a starter from Rochester.

Mike Oquist, optioned Saturday to Rochester, has to remain there for 10 days, a rule that can be circumvented only in the event of a disabled list transaction.

Brian DuBois, Rick Krivda, John O'Donoghue and Jason Satre round out Rochester's rotation.

Sellout streak ends

The Orioles fell 12 games shy of their own record for consecutive sellouts when they drew 44,778 for last night's game against Kansas City.

The Orioles had sold out their previous 53 home games.

Fernandez starts tonight

Sid Fernandez didn't realize when he signed a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract he would be pitching for the Albany Polecats, but that's what he will be doing tonight.

Fernandez has been given a 50-pitch limit for his Class-A start tonight in Columbus, Ga.

If he continues to progress well, Fernandez will make his first start for the Orioles April 17.

"I'm just taking it day by day," Fernandez said. "I'm not really too anxious yet. I'm sure I will be the closer it gets."

Cleveland signs Gonzales

Rene Gonzales signed a minor-league contract with Cleveland for $250,000 plus incentives. Gonzales was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte.

He accepted Cleveland's offer instead of staying with Baltimore because he felt he would have a quicker path to the majors with the Indians.

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