Regan looks at distractions Goodwin can create

INSIDE PITCH

June 04, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Cooperstown hasn't called yet.

Phil Regan isn't saying "I told you so."

And it definitely isn't always going to be this easy for Curtis Goodwin.

But after two games, the Orioles manager has reason to feel his obvious infatuation with the rookie center fielder was, and is, justified. Regan passed over Damon Buford, whose minor-league track record is more extensive, in favor of Goodwin months ago.

He did so for one reason. Speed.

Not because Buford doesn't have it. He does, but not quite the same quantity as Goodwin, who can be classified as a "burner."

But it wasn't until two days ago, when Andy Van Slyke went on the disabled list for the second time, that Goodwin got the opportunity to strut his stuff in the big leagues.

After yesterday's 9-5 victory over Oakland, Regan said he liked his present lineup better than any he'd used thus far "because of the two guys at the top." He was referring to Goodwin and Brady Anderson.

"Pitching is concentration," said Regan. "And those two are a distraction, they make the pitchers think."

In that regard, Regan doesn't think it was necessarily an accident that three of the first four walks allowed by A's starter Mike Harkey, came with Goodwin on base. They figured heavily in the Orioles' first six runs.

"Brady did a great job, walking three times," said Regan. "Don't overlook that."

But the strong inference is that Goodwin's speed played a major role, even though at this point his base-stealing ability at the major-league level is far from established.

He has two stolen bases in as many tries, but on neither occasion did he get a good jump, and good throws would have caught him each time.

"It's going to take him some time," said first base coach Al Bumbry, the Orioles' all-time stolen base leader (252), who knows a lot about the subject. "He didn't have as good a lead [on Goodwin's stolen base yesterday] as he did before that when he [Harkey] threw over to first. The move may have had something to do with it.

"He'll have to learn the pitchers, the situations, and pick his spots," said Bumbry.

In two games, Goodwin has four hits, one of each kind -- a bunt, a ground ball, a flare and a line drive. He doesn't yet have a leadoff hitter's discipline, often chasing pitches out of the strike zone, and he's going to have to prove he can handle the hard stuff, because that's how he will be challenged.

It's far too early to build expectations or arrive at conclusions. But Goodwin's debut has been about as Regan envisioned it would be.

During yesterday's game, Goodwin appeared to have some trouble picking up the ball off the bat. That is not uncommon during day games and probably will be magnified until he gets used to playing in double-decked parks. That is the most overlooked adjustment a player has to make in the transition from the minor leagues to "The Show."

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