Pitching-rich series good fit for Sele

SIDELIGHT

May 18, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

Boston's Aaron Sele could be forgiven for feeling a little out of place in this week's series with the Orioles.

Among the Red Sox's three starters -- Roger Clemens, Danny Darwin and Sele -- and the Orioles' triumvirate of Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald and Sid Fernandez, there are 512 major-league wins.

Only 11 belong to Sele.

"I guess I'm just a throw-in in this deal," Sele said with a grin before last night's game. "I'm definitely not the first one you think of in this series."

That's true for now, but it may not be long before Sele's name is mentioned routinely among baseball's pitching elite.

Sele, who opposes McDonald tonight at Camden Yards, has burst onto the scene with a flourish, posting a lower ERA than the other five pitchers in this series, who have made a combined 13 postseason and All-Star Game appearances.

Since getting a June 22 call-up last season from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace an ailing Clemens, Sele, who will turn 24 on June 25, has been brilliant, winning his first six decisions of 1993 and going 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his first seven starts of this year.

Sele, who was named International League Pitcher of the Year last season, doesn't possess an outstanding fastball like Clemens or McDonald.

But, like the other right-handers, Sele, who uses a three-quarters delivery, has an exceptional curve, which he seems to be able to throw at any time in the count for strikes.

"The curve has worked well for me, and during the game, if it's working, you go with it, but even if it's not, you can find it later," said Sele. "No matter what you throw or how hard you throw, you've got to throw strikes. You can throw 100 miles an hour, but if you don't throw strikes, it doesn't matter. You'll be walking people."

Sele, a 6-foot-5 native of Golden Valley, Minn., has issued only 19 walks this year and posted a 2.35 ERA, second in the American League behind Milwaukee's Ricky Bones.

Sele has not spent a full year at any one minor-league level, shooting through the Single-A and Double-A levels in 1992, and spending half a season at Pawtucket last year.

Yet, for a guy with so little major-league experience, Sele performs and behaves as if he has been there for years.

"He's got good stuff," said Boston manager Butch Hobson. "He's a lot like Clemens. When he gets in a jam, he gets tougher. I saw him like that when he was in the Instructional League."

Of course, Sele has had the benefit of pitching in a rotation that includes Clemens, Darwin, Joe Hesketh and the injured Frank Viola, all of whom have a wealth of experience that a perceptive youngster can soak up.

"Those guys seem to take the pressure off him," said McDonald. "When I came up, we didn't have the veteran pitchers on the staff. [Pete] Harnisch was in his first year and Jeff Ballard was just getting started. But it looks like he's making his pitches and learning."

Said Sele: "I'm still the fourth starter in this rotation. I look to Joe, Roger and Danny to see how they handle situations, how they handle the media and things like that. They've been a huge asset to me. To watch them is a real learning experience."

Pretty soon, they may be saying the same about Sele.

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