Like so many people, Orioles owner Peter Angelos didn't know much about Harold Baines. In fact, he engaged in a mild power struggle with general manager Roland Hemond last winter, pushing Eddie Murray to replace Baines as the Orioles' designated hitter.
Both were free agents, and Baines was coming off his sixth knee operation. But Hemond persuaded Angelos that the club should keep the 35-year-old veteran, and the Orioles re-signed him for $1.8 million on Dec. 2 -- the same day the Cleveland Indians signed Murray for $3 million.
"I was pro-Murray. There's no question I wanted him back," Angelos said. "I'm a fan of his. I remember his great years. I think he's a tremendous hitter.
"But I felt sympathetic to the position of Roland and others. Baines had served the club very effectively. He's a prince of a guy. Put it all together, how could you say no?"
Hemond's relationship with Baines dates to 1977, when Hemond was the White Sox's GM and Chicago made the Easton native the No. 1 pick in the draft. The two were reunited in January 1993, when Hemond acquired Baines from Oakland for minor-league pitchers Bob Chiounard and Allen Plaster.
Murray is a switch hitter; Baines bats only left-handed. Baines, however, is three years younger, and when Hemond said he deserved to be rewarded for his 1993 season, Angelos agreed. "He showed respect for my judgment," Hemond said.
Through 11 games, Baines is batting .400 with three homers and nine RBIs. Murray is batting .220 with one homer and five RBIs.