Agent says better times are ahead for Fernandez


September 01, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez has suffered injuries to his shoulder, his rib cage, and his knee since signing a three-year, $9 million free-agent contract last off-season.

He also has allowed a career-high 27 home runs and posted a 6-6 record and 5.15 ERA.

Agent Tom Selakovich, the man Fernandez telephones from the clubhouse after each start, a close friend and confidant of the Hawaiian-born pitcher, predicts better times are ahead for Fernandez.

"This has been a good breath of fresh air for Sid," Selakovich said of the strike. "Even though we hate not playing, even though we hate that the owners put us in this situation, Sid is one player who has benefited from it. Sid needed some time to get that knee completely healthy, some time to sit back and look at the year."

Fernandez said before the strike that he thought working out during a work stoppage was the biggest mistake of the football players union, but since apparently has abandoned those fears.

Fernandez, Selakovich said, has worked out with a personal trainer and thrown to his high school catcher three days a week. He also has laid the groundwork for the Sid Fernandez Foundation to benefit charities in the Baltimore area.

Selakovich, who was quick to point out the Orioles are 12-7 in games started by Fernandez, said he watches all of Fernandez's starts on television, thanks to a satellite dish, and charts his pitches.

"He knows he could have pitched better and he has said to me that next year he is going to show Mr. Angelos why he signed him," Selakovich said. "He's very determined. Sid likes Baltimore. He thinks the fans have been more than fair. He likes his teammates, and he thinks the owner is the greatest guy in the world."

Selakovich said Fernandez would like to lose some weight to put less stress on his knees and is working hard to do so.

Minor-league update

Rochester third baseman Jeff Manto, 30, is hitting .298 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. Voted MVP of the Red Wings, Manto leads the International League in home runs, RBIs and on-base percentage.

Manto is on course to become the first Red Wings player to lead the IL in home runs and RBIs since 1973, when Jim Fuller did so.

Manto has had trouble hitting major-league pitching. He spent time in the majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1990 and 1991 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993. He has a .203 career batting average in 222 major-league at-bats.

Though somewhat curious about Manto's productive season, the Orioles have higher hopes for Sherman Obando, whose season ended last month when he suffered a hairline fracture of his shinbone.

Obando batted .330 with 20 home runs and 69 RBIs. Terrific numbers, but the two most encouraging numbers are his grounded into double play (three) and strikeout (53) totals. They indicate Obando is a flyball hitter made for Camden Yards.

"He has Jay Buhner-type power," said Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin, comparing him to the Seattle Mariners right fielder. "He's got power to the opposite field the way Buhner does."

Potential coaching shake-up

In the event Orioles manager Johnny Oates is not brought back in 1995 for the final year of his contract, a decision that has not yet been made, the Orioles likely will hire a new pitching coach and batting instructor as well.

Former Orioles could be candidates for both positions. HTS broadcaster Mike Flanagan, greatly respected by several members of the pitching staff, would have a shot at becoming the next pitching coach.

Tony Gwynn's hitting coach, Merv Rettenmund of the San Diego Padres, is among the most respected in the business. Rettenmund's contract is up at the end of this season. Those close to Rettenmund say he always has had a soft spot in his heart for the Orioles, his first team.

Palmer to hold golf tourney

Former Orioles Mike Cuellar, Doug DeCinces and Boog Powell are among the celebrities participating in Jim Palmer's golf tournament to benefit cystic fibrosis next Thursday at Turf Valley Country Club.

The event includes breakfast, lunch, a dinner banquet, a cocktail hour, silent and live auctions, and an awards ceremony. For more information, call (410) 771-9000.

The tallest player in the tournament? Former North Carolina State center Tom Burleson, 7 feet 4.

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