Big-league call awakens Zaun

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 20, 1995|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Ken Rosenthal and Roch Eric Kubatko contributed to this article.

The Orioles' roster kept changing yesterday.

Catcher Matt Nokes was released, pitcher Gene Harris arrived from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Andy Van Slyke trade and catcher Greg Zaun was recalled from Triple-A Rochester.

Zaun's arrival yesterday shocked his new teammates.

"What's Zaun doing here?" one said.

Zaun walked into the clubhouse wearing a backpack and lugging a garment bag over his shoulder. He dropped his baggage and began shaking hands like a politician -- or like a minor-leaguer getting his first major-league call-up.

"The easy part is walking through that door," new teammate Rafael Palmeiro said as he greeted Zaun at 4:05 p.m. "The hard part is staying."

Zaun, the nephew of former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, has been in a major-league clubhouse before. He took the number 48, twice his uncle's No. 24.

A groggy Zaun got the call around noon yesterday from his Rochester manager, Marv Foley. At first Zaun did not recognize Foley's voice. Then Zaun didn't believe what he was hearing.

"He said, 'It's 12:30; get out of bed. You have to catch a plane,' " Zaun said. "I said, 'Where am I going?' He said, 'You're going to Baltimore.' I couldn't believe it."

Zaun hit .379 last month at Rochester, .293 with six home runs and 18 RBIs overall this season. Manager Phil Regan said he will start once or twice a week and be used as a defensive replacement.

Harris arrives, too

Harris, who was traded for Van Slyke on Sunday, arrived about an hour after Zaun. Harris -- who has a history of problems with his managers -- did not have time to speak with Regan. But he is not worried about his role with the team.

"The last few years, I've been coming in late out of the 'pen, so I assume that won't really change," Harris said. "I have 29 career saves, but right now, I pretty much see myself as a setup man."

So do the Orioles, who are desperate for a hard thrower out of the bullpen, particularly with the recent woes of Alan Mills (7.43 ERA).

Harris (2-2, 4.26 ERA) found out about the trade Sunday afternoon, when he was stretching with his Phillies teammates.

"I was pretty surprised," Harris said. "I didn't feel it coming on, but I guess that's the business."

More moves due today

Arthur Rhodes, tonight's scheduled starter against the New York Yankees' Sterling Hitchcock, will be recalled from Rochester.

Rhodes is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts at Rochester. In the process of straightening out his mechanics, he struck out 33 in 30 innings.

Scott Klingenbeck, who pitched six strong innings last night, could be demoted. But Mills, who has been struggling and is not out of minor-league options, may be sent down instead.

Nokes' departure does not leave the Orioles with many pure left-handed hitters off the bench, but Regan is confident in his three switch-hitters.

"We've got [Bret] Barberie, [Kevin] Bass and Zaun," Regan said. "We've got a lot of left-handed hitters in the lineup, anyway."

Hoiles looks to clip slump . . .

Catcher Chris Hoiles has a new haircut, new bats and a new attitude.

"I had a talk with one of the guys in this room yesterday on the plane," Hoiles said. "He said, 'When you walk up to home plate, your head is down. You're defeated before you get to the plate.' I am. I'm defeated before I get in the box. I'm defeated before I get in the on-deck circle.

"The first thing I'm thinking about is failure, the worst-case scenario. If the bases are loaded with nobody out, I'm thinking about punching out. That's not the way Chris Hoiles ever thought. The real Chris Hoiles used to walk up there, and the first thing he thought about was hitting a grand slam."

Hoiles, who went 0-for-4 last night with two strikeouts, is hitting .180, with one hit in his past 21 at-bats. He admitted he is feeling added pressure after signing a five-year, $17.25 million contract.

"I can't lie," Hoiles said. "Why I feel that way, I don't know. I've been a big part of this team the last four years. I realize that.

"It should be no different whether you're making $100,000 or $3 million. But it does put added pressure on you when you don't do the job.

"I got a couple of boos the last homestand. I'm not used to it, but that's something that happens when you're making the money I'm making, and not doing the job."

. . . Mattingly has new 'do,' too

While most of the talk in the Yankees clubhouse centered on the impending arrival of Darryl Strawberry, almost equal attention was paid to Don Mattingly's new, closely cropped hairstyle.

The Yankees captain just smiled and rubbed his head as teammates took turns commenting on his appearance. Shortstop Tony Fernandez had the most interesting question: "Were you drunk?"

Parting shot

Van Slyke told the Philadelphia Inquirer that decisions such as which cap the Orioles would wear on a particular day added to the team's state of confusion.

"Even putting on the right hat was confusing over there," he said.

Van Slyke said he concluded that he was "kind of like the apex of the [Orioles'] confusion.

"I was getting to the point of asking to be released. Or traded. Or quitting -- if they wouldn't do the other two."

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