Sabo may play outfield this weekend


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

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One day after again saying he had no interest in trying a new position or becoming a role player, Chris Sabo began learning how to play the outfield.

Sabo could be in left field at Fenway Park this weekend against the Boston Red Sox, Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

"He might be out there sooner than you think, but probably not here [in Kansas City]," Oates said.

Sabo took fly balls in right field before last night's game.

"I was happy with what he did today," Oates said. "Chris is not a bad guy. He's a nice guy. I had two players come up to me on the plane to go to bat for him."

Orioles left fielder Brady Anderson sometimes plays right field at Fenway Park, since left field there is not spacious enough for him to take advantage of his speed.

The Orioles had success with Mark McLemore converting from the infield to right field last year.

"He doesn't have McLemore's speed, but I like his instincts out there," Oates said of Sabo.

Oates said he and his coaches discussed the possibility of Sabo playing outfield last week, but dismissed it.

Then, Oates said yesterday, when he and Sabo talked before the game, Sabo asked him how long right field

er Jeffrey Hammonds would be out of the lineup.

"I explained to him that Leo [Gomez] was playing very well, now where do we go from here?" Oates said, replaying the conversation. "He said, 'How long is Hammonds going to be out?' Right there the light bulb went off in my head. You might see him out there in Boston."

Trade talks continue

The Orioles have talked with "a few clubs" about Sabo, said assistant general manager Frank Robinson.

"I don't feel like anything is going to happen in the next day or two," Robinson said. "We're not going to trade a player just because he wants to be traded. We're here to field the best team possible. That's No. 1. If we trade him, it will be because we think we can get value for him."

One of the teams the Orioles have spoken with are the Philadelphia Phillies, who are looking for pitching and a third baseman. But general manager Lee Thomas told Knight-Ridder News Service "it's not doing any good."

Thomas denied that the Phillies have talked to the Orioles about left-handers Arthur Rhodes and Brad Pennington. "But from what I hear, everybody and their brother is trying to get them," he said.

The Orioles are said to be interested in the Phillies' Jim Eisenreich or Milt Thompson, both left-handed-hitting outfielders.

Hammonds in Florida

Hammonds (strained knee ligament) spent his first of five days at extended spring training in Florida.

"He will get himself to the point where he comes to us and tells us he's ready to play," Robinson said.

The club has not determined whether Hammonds will play in the minor leagues before returning.

McDonald returns to mound

Right-hander Ben McDonald is scheduled to start tonight after skipping a turn in the rotation to rest his strained right groin. He Will be opposed by Kansas City's David Cone. The right-handers, last night's victor Mike Mussina and left-handers Wilson Alvarez and Jimmy Key are tied for the American League lead with eight victories. Cone is tied for the league lead with three shutouts. McDonald's streak of 80 consecutive starts ended, but he expressed no regrets. "Hopefully, all it means is I will make 34 starts instead of 35."

Ripken leads balloting

Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken is the leading vote-getter in fan balloting for the American League All-Star team. Ripken, who has started nine of the past 10 All-Star Games, has 295,782 votes. Outfielder Ken Griffey of Seattle is next highest with 192,679.

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