Alomar makes O's debut a first-rate performance Gets team's 1st hit, 1st run, starts 1st DP in opener

April 03, 1996|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,SUN STAFF

Roberto Alomar said he wasn't nervous yesterday when he took the field for his first game as a member of the Orioles.

"Not really. Not really," said Alomar, talking with reporters in a sleeveless "No Fear" T-shirt. "This is a game to go out there and have some fun. That's the way I see it."

It took Alomar only two innings yesterday to show Orioles fans why he's considered the game's finest all-around second baseman.

Alomar slashed a double down the first base line in the first inning, turned a crisp double play with Cal Ripken in the second, and enjoyed every moment of his first Opening Day with the Orioles, a 4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

"For me, it was real exciting because it was my first time playing in front of the fans," Alomar said. "The atmosphere feels great. It was a great Opening Day."

Alomar produced the Orioles' first hit of 1996 and scored the team's first run of the season, both in the first innning.

After Brady Anderson was retired to lead off the game, Alomar hit a 2-1 pitch from Kevin Appier just underneath the glove of first baseman Bob Hamelin and down the right-field line. Alomar rounded second with a full head of steam and thought about trying for third.

"I considered it," Alomar said. "I didn't want to go to third and get thrown out. It was too early in the game. It was tough for me to see the ball. It was behind my back."

Alomar, who went on to score the Orioles' first run on Ripken's two-run single, did not get another hit the rest of the day. He struck out, grounded to second and flied to center.

But in the second inning, Alomar showed the hometown fans that he also will win games with his defense.

The Royals put runners on first and third with nobody out against starter Mike Mussina. Hamelin grounded a ball to Alomar's left. Alomar grabbed the ball, wheeled and threw to second to get Keith Lockhart and Ripken finished off the double play.

A run scored on the play, but Mussina, who got out of the inning without further damage, said the double play was one of the turning points in the game.

"I made some bad pitches," Mussina said. "Fortunately, it kept me out of a big inning."

After the game, Alomar was much prouder of the double play than his extra-base hit. It marked the official beginning of his relationship with his double-play partner, Ripken.

"I'm not going to be perfect all the time, but he did the right thing," Alomar said of Ripken. "He got to the bag early, and I just threw the ball. It was a great double play. He made a great throw."

Alomar admitted that getting to know Ripken will take some time. But the two All-Stars are already learning.

Three days earlier against the Philadelphia Phillies, Alomar rushed a throw to Ripken on an easy double-play ball and threw it into left field.

Yesterday, Ripken and Alomar recognized that the hefty Hamelin was a slow runner -- they both took their time and completed the double play.

Alomar says he still watches the Toronto Blue Jays on ESPN, but insisted, "I'm an Oriole." He said he enjoys playing alongside Ripken -- and not having to hit against Mussina.

"I'd rather have him on my side than the other side," Alomar said of Mussina. "For five years, he was real tough to hit."

Orioles fans, no doubt, are glad to have Alomar on their side, too.

"I always enjoyed coming here and I always enjoyed playing in this park," Alomar said. "Hopefully, I'm going to enjoy it more playing here every day."

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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