Oquist, Salkeld row similar boats

July 06, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The 1989 summer free-agent draft included a highly-touted high school pitcher from California who became the third player picked.

Seattle locked up Roger Salkeld hundreds of players before the Orioles got around to choosing University of Arkansas pitcher Mike Oquist on the 13th round.

But when they oppose each other tonight at Camden Yards in the finale of a three-game series, they will be at a similar stage of their careers -- rookies trying to get a foothold.

Salkeld might be further along than Oquist but for a setback that forced him to miss all of 1992. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder in October of that year and it was thought he might have to skip last season as well.

But by June, he was back on the mound, and by September he was making his major-league debut at Oriole Park, receiving no decision in a 6-3 Seattle defeat.

Salkeld (2-4, 6.71) opened this season at the Mariners' Triple-A team, Calgary, after emerging from spring training as fifth starter. After being promoted April 23, he made his season debut against the Orioles here, again pitching to no decision in a game the Mariners lost, 4-3.

Five days later, Salkeld stopped the Yankees for 6 2/3 innings in a combined 6-0 shutout victory and promptly was sent back to Calgary because the schedule did not call for a fifth starter.

By May 10, the right-hander was up to stay and starting fairly regularly. But, like Oquist, there is still ground to cover to become a full-fledged major-league starter. Salkeld hasn't won since May 22, and his earned run average has climbed steadily since that 8-2 conquest of Texas.

Fortunately for Oquist, he has not had to deal with a major injury and his rise through the Orioles system has been steady, if not spectacular.

Oquist, the No. 5 starter, is a replacement for Mike Mussina, who was moved back to Friday to give his arm more recovery time.

He twice has faced the Mariners in relief, and one of the top outings of his career came against them last August when he pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

The slugging Cleveland Indians made Oquist's last start an untidy one. He allowed six runs, including two homers, in 4 1/3 innings and left with the game tied 6-6. The Orioles eventually won in the 10th.

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