Hot at home, Palmeiro doesn't want to leave

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 11, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

All in all, Rafael Palmeiro's first week as an Oriole was quite productive.

In five games, the new first baseman hit a team-high .368 with three home runs, which ties Mike Devereaux for the team lead, and six RBIs, which places him one behind Devereaux.

And Palmeiro, the team's biggest off-season acquisition, became immediate fan favorite.

"It was absolutely great," Palmeiro said of the first week. "I don't want to go on the road. I like it here and I want to play here every day."

However, he will have to hit the road, and he'll have to face the Texas Rangers, his old club, next weekend. After an 0-for-4 game Friday night, Palmeiro bounced back in the final two games of the weekend series with the Rangers to go 4-for-8 with a homer, a double and four RBIs.

"I'm happy with my performance, but it's not as enjoyable because we lost [yesterday]," said Palmeiro. "They're a good team also, and they're going to win their share."

Palmeiro's return next weekend to Arlington, Texas, where he spent five years, only will serve to reopen wounds that were created in the course of his acrimonious departure.

"Hopefully, everything will be put to rest, once and for all," said Palmeiro. "We can get on with our season. It [his leaving] is getting old. A lot of people are making a big deal about it and it's getting old."

Friendly rivalry

Call the first meeting between Orioles outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and Rangers pitcher Rick Helling a draw.

Hammonds, who was a teammate of Helling's at Stanford and on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, went 1-for-2 off his buddy, flying to center in the second, then slamming a one-out homer to center in the fourth.

Helling, who was making his major-league debut, got the last laugh, though, as the Rangers won, 8-7.

"It's the beginning of a long career for him," said Hammonds. "When I do see him, I'm going to let him know I got him. Rick's the type of guy who brings out the best in you, because you realize he's not going to go away."

Pitching for clear skies

Manager Johnny Oates said the Orioles' starting rotation should be fine for the coming week, provided there are no rainouts.

"We're OK now. The only way we get hurt is if we get rained out [today] and have to play Tuesday," said Oates. "If we have to play five games in a row before Sunday, that's where we might have a lock-up."

Oates said there really are no bullpen candidates to fill in as starters, since the six relievers have been conditioned to work in relief.

The most obvious candidate to fill in would be Rochester's Mike Oquist, who wouldn't be eligible for recall from the Triple-A Red Wings until Thursday, Oates said. Other possible emergency starters are John O'Donoghue, currently with Rochester, and Rick Forney, who is on the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Bench warmers

Through the first five games of the season, only two non-regulars, Damon Buford and Jeff Tackett, have played, and that's the way it will be for the foreseeable future, said Oates.

When asked yesterday if he felt badly for those who haven't played, Oates said: "Not one single bit. It may be a long time before they get to play. I feel for them, but I like my job."

Palmeiro's blasts

Palmeiro's third home run of the season, in the first inning, gave him as many in five home games in Baltimore as former Oriole Glenn Davis had in his entire first season at Memorial Stadium in 1991.

Palmeiro, who hit 37 home runs with Texas in 1993, didn't hit his third last season until May 3.

Homer happiness

The Orioles and Rangers set a three-game Camden Yards record with 12 homers. Four-game sets with the Yankees in June and with the Rangers in August 1993 produced 14 homers.

In addition, the Orioles added to another record with at least two home runs in each of their first five games. They can tie a mark set in 1984 for most consecutive games at the start of the season with multiple homers by connecting in the next two games against Detroit.

Counting the numbers

Yesterday's paid attendance of 46,469 was larger than last year's average of 45,562 per home date, but marked the second game in five 1994 home contests that was not a sellout.

Clark is hurt

Texas first baseman Will Clark left yesterday's game in the third inning with a sprained right ankle, suffered when he planted his foot on the bag to handle shortstop Manuel Lee's throw on Cal Ripken's grounder in the first.

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