Bonilla covering ground in bid for 3rd-base role Could open '96 spot for free-agent outfielder

Orioles Notebook

September 20, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- If the Orioles' 1996 season began today -- talk about your pipe dreams -- then Bobby Bonilla probably would be the third baseman.

Orioles manager Phil Regan called Bonilla into his office before yesterday's game and told him he appreciates the way he's tTC played third, with intensity and to the best of his ability. Regan said that he thinks Bonilla will be his third baseman next year.

"I like the way he looks at third," Regan said. "So far, I like what I see."

Bonilla will never be a Gold Glove candidate; his throws can be erratic, and his first step is slow. But Regan said Bonilla can be adequate.

RF There is a clear upside to moving Bonilla to third for the BONILLA Orioles: It's a lot easier to find a good-hitting outfielder than third baseman, so if Bonilla sticks at third, the Orioles can attempt to fill his spot in the outfield with anyone from Ron Gant to Sammy Sosa to Jeffrey Hammonds.

A club source indicated the Orioles also may attempt to acquire a good defensive third baseman as a backup, for the late innings.

Bonilla isn't the only player under evaluation. The others:

Center fielder Curtis Goodwin. Regan went out of his way to compliment Goodwin after yesterday's game, noting that Goodwin showed more patience than Monday when he swung at the first pitch in three of five at-bats. He tripled in five at-bats yesterday, and took more pitches -- as Regan asked him to do Monday. The Orioles are attempting to get a read on whether Goodwin could be their leadoff hitter next year.

* Outfielder Mark Smith. He's hitting .236 overall, with three hits and one RBI in his last 16 at-bats over six games. Regan said he'd like to see more of Smith. Translated: Smith hasn't done much since sticking his finger into an air conditioner Sept. 4.

Number crunching

Rafael Palmeiro, with 36 homers, has the most by a left-handed-hitting Oriole since Boog Powell had 37 in 1969. . . . Brady Anderson needs three more runs to reach 100 for the year, Palmeiro one more RBI to reach 100.

Bartee dealt

The Orioles traded Double-A outfielder Kimera Bartee to the Minnesota Twins yesterday, completing the deal they made for pitcher Scott Erickson in July.

Around the horn

Kevin Brown is still in Georgia with his wife, who is ill. He's expected to rejoin the club by Friday, when he's scheduled to pitch against Milwaukee. . . . The Tigers are planning a pre-game ceremony for Ripken tomorrow in which manager Sparky Anderson and shortstop Alan Trammell will present him with a crystal ball.

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