Minor-leaguer Hall still seeking major chance Outfielder, 30, knows O's might be last hope



FORT LAUDERDALE — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Joe Hall tries not to think about the possibility he might not be playing in Baltimore in April.

Hall can't make any decisions for manager Davey Johnson, and worrying won't help him at the plate, but at 30, it's hard not to worry.

Hall is a career minor-leaguer. average in more than 2,800 at-bats in eight minor-league seasons and 43 at-bats in the major leagues. He's battling to stay with the Orioles, and he's hitting .300 this spring with a home run and six RBIs, though most of those numbers are from B games. "I think about making the team all the time, from the first week of camp to the last week," Hall said. "I feel happy with what I've done this spring, but this is something I can't do anything about. It looks like you've played good enough to make the team, but when it comes down to it you don't. I've seen it before. I'll see it again."

If Hall sounds a little hardened, he is. Baltimore is his fourth organization and possibly his last chance. The recent acquisition of outfielder Tony Tarasco from the Montreal Expos didn't help Hall's chances, and the veteran has already begun to ponder what he'll do if he's cut.

"I really don't have any options," Hall said. "I'll probably just go to [Triple-A] Rochester. It's to a point where if I want to play in the big leagues, I've got to be playing somewhere. I'm not going to sit out a year. It's not the first time I've been in a tough situation. It's tough to keep being told we like you, but we don't know what else to do with you."

Haynes expands repertoire

Pitcher Jimmy Haynes left the mound feeling good on Monday after being smacked around for four runs and nine hits in four innings. Better, in fact, than he did after his prior outing, a four-inning no-hitter March 13.

The difference is that on Monday, Haynes was able to mix breaking balls effectively with his fastball. All he had was an active fastball in his earlier appearance.

"Being able to get all my pitches over for strikes and learning the hitters are the biggest things I have to do to stick in the major leagues," Haynes said. "[On Monday], I was leaving the ball up a little bit and maybe getting behind too much. My best pitch was a curve. Before I had to rely on my fastball. The last two innings, I had pretty good command of all my breaking stuff."

Haynes, 23, is working with pitching coach Pat Dobson on his mechanics. Haynes has a tendency to slump down when throwing a curve, which causes the ball to hit the dirt before it crosses the plate. Haynes was still bouncing some balls on Monday, but the Orioles' probable fifth starter is improving.

"I'm trying to stay taller in my stretch and wind-up," Haynes said. "I'm young. I'm still learning. It's not something I think about out there. You've already got 10,000 other things to worry about. It'll start to come natural the more I work on it with Pat. I'm doing a pretty good job now and I'm trying to progress."

Devo on the mend

Hamstring injuries can be tricky.

Outfielder Mike Devereaux knows the routine of jogging and treatments and testing and nursing the sore muscle until it's 100 percent. Devereaux showed he'd come a long way when he sprinted to make a diving catch in Sunday's B game with the Mets.

"There's a very fine line between feeling good and feeling bad," Devereaux said. "I was begging it not to pull on that catch. You don't want to go to the point of aggravating it. That can really set you back. It wasn't a do-or-die situation, so if I would have felt anything at all I would've given up on the ball. But I ended up building the muscle up. It feels a lot better now."

Devereaux hopes to have his normal jump and explosiveness back by this weekend. Johnson said he will "take the wraps off" Devereaux today and begin to use him in more active roles.

"There'll be a time maybe [tomorrow], maybe Friday when I'll be in a situation where I can run just as far, just as fast as usual," Devereaux said. "Then I'll know I'm 100 percent."

Around the horn

The Orioles return to action today after their only day off of the spring to play the Marlins in Fort Lauderdale. The Orioles have games scheduled through March 30, the date of their final exhibition against Philadelphia at Camden Yards. . . . Rick Krivda (1.00) and Scott Erickson (1.13) are in the top 10 in American League ERA leaders this spring. . . . Keith Shepherd and Armando Benitez trail only Cleveland's Jose Mesa for the AL lead in saves this spring. Mesa has four, Benitez and Shepherd three. . . . Mark Smith is among leaders with a .423 batting average and a .516 on-base percentage. . . . Bill Ripken raised his average to .385 with his 3-for-3, two-RBI game against Montreal on Monday.

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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