Canseco gets comfort at Oriole Park

SIDELIGHT

June 23, 1995|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,Sun Staff Writer

Jose Canseco did not have many nice things to say about Pawtucket R.I., the home of the Red Sox's Triple-A farm club.

But he raved yesterday about Baltimore.

"I always enjoy playing in Baltimore," Canseco said before last night's game. "It's a very nice city."

Canseco did not say the same things about Pawtucket, calling the fans "Neanderthals" after completing a two-day rehabilitation assignment there.

Recovering from groin and abdominal strains that have kept him out a month, Canseco struck out in five of his six at-bats, including three against the Rochester Red Wings. The Pawtucket fans booed, so Canseco refused to sign autographs after the second game. He had signed before the game.

Then it got ugly. The fans struck back, according to Canseco, by dinging up his truck with their balls and their bats.

Canseco unleashed some expletives about Pawtucket and later vowed never to go back, not even for a Red Sox exhibition game.

He's happy to be at Camden Yards, a hitter's park that Canseco likes even more than Cleveland's Jacobs Field.

"I think the baseball's a little bit better there," Canseco said of Baltimore. "Baltimore's got a little bit more of an aura. It's a stadium. Cleveland's a little bit more industrial."

The comfortable surroundings didn't improve Canseco's performance yesterday at the plate. He struck out in the second inning, one of seven hitters who faced Kevin Brown before he left the game with a hand injury. Canseco -- who batted .409 (9-for-22) against Brown lifetime -- faced Mike Oquist in the third inning and grounded out to Cal Ripken. He walked in the fifth inning. In the eighth, he struck out against Gene Harris.

Canseco has failed to do much else since leaving Pawtucket.

In his first two games at Fenway Park, Canseco went 0-for-8. He admitted his timing is off but is optimistic his stroke will come around.

"I've been seeing the ball good lately," Canseco said. "But I've been pulling off the ball too much. As long as I'm in the lineup every day, I can put up some big numbers. I'd like to stay healthy, play every single game and help the team win the division."

Canseco still has the confidence of his manager, Kevin Kennedy. Kennedy managed Canseco in Texas, allowed Canseco's ill-fated pitching stunt, but also saw Canseco at the top of his form.

Kennedy said Canseco will come around.

"He's a tremendously confident guy, he doesn't get down, he knows where he's at," Kennedy said. "I've learned managing him for two years plus; he finds a way."

Now would be a fine time for Canseco to find it. The Red Sox entered last night's game with an eight-game lead over the Orioles. And with the All-Star break approaching and Brown's hand injury, Canseco said the series is even more important for Baltimore than it is for Boston.

"I'll be happy with two, but I'll be happier [if the Red Sox] win three," Canseco said. "They need more than three, they need them all."

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