Fernandez: N.Y. fans won't notice

SIDELIGHT

August 08, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- He doesn't expect trumpets to roar, tears to fall, bombs to burst.

Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez is scheduled to pitch in New York tonight for the first time since he played for the Mets. But to Fernandez, Shea Stadium was home. Tonight, he pitches at Yankee Stadium.

"To tell you the truth, I don't think it will be a big reception at all," Fernandez said. "It's not like it's Tom Seaver coming back and pitching in New York. Or it's not like it would be if Doc Gooden went somewhere else and came back to New York to pitch. I'll probably just hear a lot of boos because I'll be pitching for the opposing team."

Besides, Fernandez says, the Mets and Yankees share little in common but the name of their home city.

"Different teams, different stadium," Fernandez said. "I don't think many Mets fans go to Yankees games, and I don't think many Yankees fans go to Mets games."

Fernandez said he was sheltered somewhat from the madness that is New York City.

"I lived in Long Island, and about the only time I went to the city was to go in and see a play," Fernandez said. "Manhattan's fun for a short period of time, but I don't think I could live there year-round."

Frank Sinatra sings that if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. Fernandez made it in New York, but so far he hasn't made it in Baltimore.

Fernandez brings into Yankee Stadium a 6-6 record in 18 starts, a 5.09 ERA and 26 home runs given up in 109 2/3 innings.

From his sixth start on, Fernandez has gone 4-6 with a 6.52 ERA and has given up 22 home runs in 77 1/3 innings.

Fernandez went 98-79 with a 3.15 ERA in the National League, all but two of his 257 appearances coming with the Mets, who acquired him in a one-sided deal with the Dodgers, who gave up Fernandez for infielder Bob Bailor and left-handed reliever Carlos Diaz.

The Dodgers made the deal because they needed a left-hander to replace drug-troubled Steve Howe in their bullpen.

More than 10 years and several suspensions later, Howe has stabilized the Yankees' bullpen.

Fernandez missed his last scheduled turn in the rotation when an old left knee injury acted up. He received a cortisone injection last week.

"The shot cooled it down a lot," Fernandez said. "My knee is fine. It's not 100 percent, but it's tolerable enough to pitch on."

Fernandez, signed to a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract in the off-season, opened the season on the disabled list with bursitis of the left shoulder. He also spent 15 days on the DL with a strained rib cage muscle, and then missed last week's start when his knee flared up.

For the first time this season, Orioles manager Johnny Oates acknowledged Fernandez's weight was an issue worth addressing.

Since then, Oates has gone out of his way to point out that Fernandez has been "working very hard on conditioning," and Fernandez has been riding an exercise bike after games on a regular basis.

Also, Fernandez's agent informed the Orioles that the pitcher plans to lose weight.

For now, the Orioles would settle for Fernandez gaining a win tonight in New York.

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