Alexander thrives at shortstop

September 07, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

Manny Alexander floundered when the Orioles experimented with him as the Rochester second baseman, then thrived when he moved back to shortstop for the final month.

As a result, a strong stretch drive has re-established Alexander as a top prospect -- and perhaps even the heir apparent to Cal Ripken he is supposed to be.

After missing the first month with a thigh injury, Alexander found himself playing three games at second for every one at short. His hitting and defense suffered. When he moved to short for good July 23, his average was .208 and he had 18 RBIs in 69 games.

"We wanted to try him for 50 games at second to see what happened," said Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin. didn't respond very well to moving."

But the native of San Pedro de Macoris -- the cradle of shortstops in the Dominican Republic -- roared through August and early September to finish with a .249 average, a career-high six homers, 39 RBIs and 30 steals.

Despite a 2-for-15 drought at the end, Alexander hit .341 over his final 35 games with 19 RBIs.

"He resurrected his season," said Red Wings manager Bob Miscik.

Alexander is not opposed totally to second base, but he made it plain he didn't like all the moving.

"I want to play short," he said. "But more than anything I want to play one position. If they want me at second, put me at second."

Triple-play time

Rochester pulled a triple play in its final series against Pawtucket, its first since 1990.

Outfielder Mark Smith started it with a diving catch of Tony Rodriguez's sinking liner with runners on first and second. Interestingly, Smith hit into a triple play May 3 against Pawtucket.

"It was a little payback, I guess," said Smith, who hit his 19th homer in his next at-bat after starting the play.

Miscellaneous

Despite a 33-37 home record, Rochester finished with 370,050 in attendance, its third best in the regular season. The average was 5,523. . . . Damon Buford doubled his previous career high with 16 Red Wings home runs. . . . Jim Wawruck got two hits in Rochester's next-to-last game to finish with a .300 batting average. He sat out the finale. . . . The Red Wings led the 10-team International League in runs, were second in homers and third in batting average, but finished ninth in ERA. . . . Bowie averaged almost 10,000 fans during its last 11 home dates and finished fourth in the Eastern League, just shy of 300,000 for the season. . . . The Baysox have their work cut out for them in the playoffs against a Harrisburg team that was 49-22 on the road, 20-11 in one-run decisions and 12-3 in extra innings . . . . Baysox center fielder Curtis Goodwin led the Eastern League in steals, hits, at-bats and runs scored. . . . The Baysox used only 12 pitchers all season. . . . Frederick placed league save leader Chris Lemp, catcher B. J. Waszgis (100 RBIs) and outfielder Kim Bartee on the Carolina League All-Star team. . . . The Keys drew 25,747 for their final series against Wilmington and passed the Blue Rocks in the hotly contested attendance race. Frederick averaged 5,301 to Wilmington's 5,235. . . . Tippy Martinez's Mexican food became the latest addition to the Keys' menu during the last two weeks. He made two appearances to sign autographs. . . . The Orioles' top draft choice from last season, second-rounder Tommy Davis, batted .273 at Albany (Ga.) with five homers and 35 RBIs in 61 games, but struggled at third

base. . . . Right-hander Carlos Chavez, who pitched a no-hitter two weeks ago, was named the Bluefield MVP after leading the Appalachian League with 92 strikeouts and tying for second with seven wins. The pitching staff was first with a 2.89 ERA and the offense stole 135 bases in 68 games.

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