ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Orioles missed out on Ron Gant last year and he became a National League All-Star. But the Orioles could have another chance at getting him, he said, when he becomes a free agent after this season.
"Most definitely," Gant said. "Peter Angelos is one of the type of guys who is going to go out and get good players and try to put together a good ballclub. I'm sure my name will come up more than once there pretty soon."
Gant broke his leg in a motorcycle accident before the 1994 season, and when the Atlanta Braves bought out his contract, he became a free agent. The Orioles were one of the last teams in the running for the power-hitting outfielder, but were beaten out by the Cincinnati Reds.
"The Giants and the Orioles needed a player who could play right away for them," Gant said. "I wasn't able to do that, because of the injury."
Johnson-Nomo is striking match
There is great anticipation for tonight's duel of starting pitchers Randy Johnson and Hideo Nomo, who lead their respective leagues in strikeouts. The hairy, 6-foot-10 left-hander with the streak of nastiness against the guy from Japan with the nasty delivery and split-fingered fastball.
Strikeout king Nolan Ryan said: "It's really great for the game. If you ask me, Randy Johnson is the premier pitcher in the game today. Let's put it this way: If I wasn't involved in baseball at all, I'd be watching."
American League manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that part of the reason that he's starting Johnson is that four of the first five hitters in the National League lineup are left-handed -- Lenny Dykstra, Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds and Fred McGriff. The scene at Camden Yards two years ago, when Johnson threw a fastball over the head of John Kruk, was recalled often yesterday.
"It's an unfair advantage," said Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza. "He'll do to everybody what he did to Kruk. We were laughing about it, and I said, 'Yeah, the right-handers will take care of him.' Yeah, right. We've just got to get him out of the game. Let him throw his three shutout innings and try and get the next guy."
San Diego plays Seattle regularly in spring training, but Gwynn sits out games when Johnson pitches. "Why get into a rut in the spring?" he said rhetorically. "I consider him the most intimidating pitcher in baseball today, and most guys don't want to face him."
NL manager Felipe Alou was asked if Nomo would have been the starting pitcher had Atlanta's Greg Maddux been available, and he answered instinctively, "I don't think so . . ."
But then Alou looked out at the crowd of reporters and realized that this was Nomo's coming-out party and tried to amend his words, continuing, "I don't know, I don't know." The room reverberated with laughter.
No-show Phils anger Giles
The Philadelphia Phillies' Dykstra and Darren Daulton were no-shows at yesterday's workout. Dykstra contacted the NL office on Sunday night and said he would be detained by personal matters, but nobody seemed to know the whereabouts of Daulton. Alou did say he understood that both would be in uniform for today's game.
"It bothers me, the fact that this is All-Star Game time and they were supposed to be present," said Phillies president Bill Giles. "The only players not present are my players. It's embarrassing to me personally and the organization, and I don't like it."
Managing by the numbers
AL president Gene Budig introduced Showalter by saying that he looked like an accounting professor -- which, of course, Budig had been at one time.
Showalter, who works under the strain of expectation from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, walked to the microphone. There's a chance," he said dryly, "that I'll maybe be teaching accounting here shortly."
No doubting Thomas
Chicago first baseman Frank Thomas won the Home Run Derby, hitting seven of the eight longest homers by the eight contestants, and beating Cleveland's Albert Belle, three homers two, in the championship round. Thomas' longest blast went 470 feet.
Boggs is believer in history
Yankees third baseman Wade Boggs on the AL East: "Injuries have played a large part in what's gone on. Baltimore's had its share of injuries, and naturally, we have. Boston hasn't had too many injuries and done what they needed to do, going out and getting some help."
Boggs was asked if the Yankees had a chance to catch the Red Sox. "Chance?" he said. "1978. I'm sure they asked the same question in 1978."
That year, the Yankees came back to catch the Red Sox and wi the AL East. "We're only eight games out," he said. "They [the '78 Yankees] were, 13, 14, whatever it was."
Uncle Rick proud of Zaun
Former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, now managing Triple-A Albuquerque, was in the NL clubhouse yesterday, visiting with some old friends. Dempsey said he talked with Orioles rookie Greg Zaun, his nephew, the day before he got his first major-league hit.