'Beyond mad' Smith wants trade Outfielder is batting .402 for Rochester

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 13, 1996|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

DETROIT -- Outfielder Mark Smith, demoted to Triple-A Rochester last week, said Tuesday night that he wants to be traded.

Smith went 4-for-4 Tuesday, after going 4-for-5 on Monday night, and now he's hitting .402 for the Red Wings. "I was mad before," Smith said afterward. "Now I'm beyond mad. I've had to deal with three different managers giving jobs to other guys. I want to go somewhere and play. I've told Pat Gillick, Kevin Malone and Davey Johnson that I want to be traded.

"If I was traded, I know I could make some people look bad."

Smith was asked if he thinks he shouldn't be in the minors. "I thought I didn't belong here after last year," Smith replied.

The Orioles called up Smith for 20 days, and in that time he went 3-for-16 (.188).

Johnson gives himself 'C'

If he were to grade himself, Orioles manager Davey Johnson said yesterday he'd give himself a "C" for his first 60 games in the American League.

Johnson says he underestimated the need for right-handed pitching, and at times, he's felt short-handed in his bullpen. "That's my fault," Johnson said. "To me, that was because of my inexperience in this league. . . . I couldn't correct that early, not knowing the personnel and not knowing the organization. That hurt."

One of the things Johnson says he must do as a manager -- something that's been regarded as a strength of his in the past -- is handle the pitching staff, "and not wear anybody out. I feel I've failed in that regard here."

How has that failure manifested itself? "We have a 5.50 ERA," Johnson said. "I feel like the talent is here, but we haven't done what we're capable of. Some guys have been good, some guys have been horrendous."

In 20-20 hindsight, Johnson isn't sure if he handled Bobby Bonilla's distaste for the designated hitter correctly. "That was something I felt I had to do," Johnson said. "A switch-hitter a la Eddie Murray -- what a weapon. And we wanted to develop Jeffrey Hammonds and Tony Tarasco in the outfield. It was the right thing to do baseball-wise.

"Again, it might be a lack of experience. I'm a rookie manager over here. Maybe that is not realizing how being a designated hitter [might affect] an NL player. Or maybe Bobby Bonilla is just different."

Bonilla is playing right field every day now and flourishing. He hit his fourth homer yesterday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. "We used to talk every day," Johnson said, "twice a day. Now we don't talk. We just shake hands everyday."

Florida rehab for Benitez

Reliever Armando Benitez is being ordered to Sarasota, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation because club officials thought he wasn't doing his work and his physical conditioning was suffering. According to a club source, Benitez raised the possibility he would leave the team -- something he's done a couple of times in the past.

Orioles general manager Kevin Malone wouldn't confirm that. But he says he doesn't think that will happen. "This is part of the difficult maturing process we all go through," Malone said. "Once he realizes what's best for him, he'll realize quitting is not an option. I don't think it's a legitimate option, and I don't think he'll do it."

Malone did say that when told that he was being sent to Baltimore to collect his things, Benitez "was frustrated, upset. He felt like he had done whatever we asked him to do. It was a consensus [of the Orioles' staff] that he hadn't done all that was required of him."

Good showing for Alexander

Manny Alexander, waiting for his chance to play short, played well in his second consecutive start at third base yesterday. Before the game, Johnson said he thinks Alexander "feels like the odd man out, and I don't like anyone on our club feeling left out. I know it's been tough on him, been tough on Cal, and it's been tough on me, the whole debacle. Maybe none of us have handled it very well. But he's a member of this club and he needs to play. I still think he has ability, I still like his talent."

Wild-card possibilities

The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians are the two best teams in the American League so far this year, and as they battle over the top of the AL Central, they increase the likelihood the wild card will come out of that division.

That would mean the Orioles, who began play yesterday six games behind the White Sox, would have to win the AL East to make the playoffs. "We always looked at it that way," said Malone. "We never really considered [playing for] a wild card spot. We planned to win the division, and we felt we had to win the division to get in. . . . I'm approaching it that if we don't win the division, we probably won't get in. But there are still 100 games, and we haven't really gotten hot yet."

Not like old days

Reliever Randy Myers said he doesn't see younger players learning from veterans as they once did. When Myers was breaking into the majors, he said, he would ask other older players about why they did certain things, why they pitched to a hitter in a certain way.

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