Strike leaves Lonnie Smith's career in limbo


August 13, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Lonnie Smith cleaned out his locker after Thursday night's rainout fully aware that he might never again have an opportunity to hang his clothes in a major-league clubhouse.

It's conceivable the strike ended Smith's career, one in which he played for a record four different teams in five World Series.

"I've thought about that possibility many a time," said Smith, who said he wants to play baseball next season provided he doesn't ride the bench as much as he did for the Orioles this season.

Even if the strike is settled, Smith said, he realizes the Orioles might not have a roster spot for him.

not like I've done a great deal to help this club," he said.

Smith headed home to Atlanta, where teammate Dwight Smith is a neighbor. His No. 1 goal during the strike?

"To get back to my playing weight of 185," he said. "Let's just say I'm not there right now."

Smith, 38, is hitting .203 and has just 59 at-bats, despite being on the roster since Opening Day, save for a three-week stay on the disabled list. The nature of the injury was questionable, though Smith removed any doubt about it.

"I had an opportunity to work out and lose weight while I had that fake knee injury, but I didn't take advantage of it," Smith said.

Poole: Players should work out

Orioles assistant player representative Jim Poole is a firm believer that all the players should do whatever they can to remain in playing shape during the strike.

"We're going to work out," Poole said. "We expect every player on the team to work out because teams have an advantage if they come back in good shape. Players will find somewhere to work out, no matter where they are."

Orioles manager Johnny Oates said: "I'm sure some players will work out and others won't. I think the number that do work out will be directly related to where their team is in the standings."

The Orioles stand 6 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East and are running second in the wild-card race, 2 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians.

Palmeiro happy here

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, heartbroken when the Texas Rangers signed Will Clark to a free- agent contract, said things worked out for the best.

"This is awesome here," Palmeiro said. "It's been more than I even thought it would be. I never thought baseball could be this enjoyable. I never really enjoyed it until I came here. The main thing I like about it here is people really appreciate what I do as a player on the field."

Palmeiro, in the first year of a five-year contract worth $30.5 million, said he hopes that this will not be his final contract with the Orioles and that he finishes his career here.

Tour interest doubles

Many fans in from out of town for last night's game, the first wiped out by the strike, still wanted to see the ballpark, so they participated in tours, which are part of the daily routine at Camden Yards.

About 600, double the usual turnout, went on tours yesterday, according to Don Grove, Camden Yards tour coordinator.

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