Rare start brightens gloomy Smith

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 14, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

Lonnie Smith will make his first start in 3 1/2 weeks today. He won't have to psyche himself up to come to the park, but it isn't always that way.

"Some days I come here feeling good," Smith said. "Other days I pretty much don't even want to be here, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Nothing but complain or retire and neither option appeals to Smith, who has started just eight games and is hitting .143 in 35 at-bats. "I've thought about retiring a number of times, but my wife always convinces me to stick with it," he said.

Smith, who batted 199 times for Pittsburgh last season beforbeing traded to the Orioles on Sept. 8 for outfielder Stanton Cameron and left-hander Terry Farrar, said he is not bitter.

"They didn't make any promises to me and I respect that," he said. "They were upfront about it. It's just a matter of me dealing with it.

"It's been difficult, but I understand the situation. They have a lot of talented players here and they're shooting for the works. They aren't in a rebuilding situation like Pittsburgh was. There's a chance I might decide to call it quits."

But he doesn't want to cause a disturbance.

"I don't want to stir up anything," Smith said. "I know what they are trying to accomplish. It eats at me, but I try not to let it affect the team."

Smith, 38, has played in five World Series with four different organizations. Making it to another is a priority, but not the top priority.

"I would like to experience another one, but as I get toward the end it isn't as important," he said. "It would be nice to be a winner, but right now I would just like to be a player."

Smith will be the designated hitter tonight against Yankees left-hander Terry Mulholland, and Tim Hulett will start at second base.

Palmeiro's a hit

Rafael Palmeiro continues to be on a torrid pace at the plate, running his current hitting streak to 14 games, batting .439 with three homers, 11 RBIs and 14 runs scored during this stretch.

Palmeiro has now hit safely in 40 of his past 43 games, including a major-league high 24 straight from April 23-May 22. He is hitting .444 (20-for-45) in June.

Hammonds takes batting practice

Jeffrey Hammonds, on the disabled list with a strained medial collateral ligament of the right knee since May 4, has taken batting practice in Florida, but no return target date has been set.

"The last two days have been good," manager Johnny Oates said. "Everyone has been really encouraged."

Nevertheless, Hammonds has not been cleared for a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.

A little local flavor, please

Maryland-brewed beers are a hit at the ballpark. So big, in fact, a second concession stand has been added to Camden Yards that specializes in the so-called "microbrews."

The first stand opened this season on the Eutaw Street pavilion between the warehouse and the stadium. It sells only Maryland beers made by small bottlers around the state.

Karl Schenk, a co-owner and operator of the stand, said he is adding a second stand on the concourse this week near section 71 in left field.

Attention ballot-stuffers

These American League players have received more All-Star votes than Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro: Toronto catcher Pat Borders, Yankees catcher Mike Stanley, Seattle first baseman Tino Martinez, Oakland second baseman Brent Gates, Toronto third baseman Ed Sprague and Toronto shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

Not so sweet home

Sid Fernandez dropped his third straight home decision, though his ERA during those starts is just 3.80.

Paul's pall

Every Yankee batter got at least one hit last night, except American League batting leader Paul O'Neill, who went 0-for-2 with two walks, dropping his batting average five points to .417.

Dawes to make pitch

Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes of Silver Spring will throw out the first pitch tomorrow as part of "kids fitness and sports safety night."

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