Antilles' Markwell is eyed as O's span world for talent Sore finger keeps Alomar at DH for both games

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 14, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

The Orioles are scouting talent the world over in an attempt to bolster their organizational depth -- a search that has taken them from Australia to the Caribbean.

According to league sources, the Orioles continue to closely monitor the progress of one such player; Diegomar Markwell, a 16-year-old left-hander from Curacao (in the Netherland Antilles).

Markwell is an international free agent and is being pursued by Atlanta, Montreal, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees, in addition to the Orioles. One baseball source said that Orioles general manager Pat Gillick has been in Curacao scouting Markwell, but club officials would not confirm this.

The Orioles already signed one international free agent this summer. John Stephens, a 16-year-old pitcher from Australia, recently signed for a $500,000 bonus and began play at rookie-level Sarasota.

Double DH duty for Alomar

Orioles manager Davey Johnson said his game plan yesterday was to use Roberto Alomar as the designated hitter in the first game against left-hander Kenny Rogers and to play Alomar at second base in the second game against right-hander Dwight Gooden.

But Alomar's finger was sore after the first game and Johnson decided to use him as DH in both games.

Alomar has a sore ring finger on his left hand that is easily aggravated when he fields balls. Alomar said the swelling has gone down since he last played the field on Thursday, but he still feels pain when the ball makes contact with the bone in his finger.

"I might keep aggravating it," Alomar said. "The less punishment I get, the less pain I will have. It's better for me to DH so I don't have to worry about fielding ground balls and getting hurt. But if they want me to go in the field, I'll play in the field."

When Bill Ripken was ejected in the second game for arguing a called third strike, Manny Alexander took over at second base -- his first appearance since June 18.

Fighting off field, too

Anytime the Yankees and Orioles try to get together, they butt heads. Even off the field.

After Friday's rainout, the teams ran into an impasse over when ** to play the makeup game.

A day-night doubleheader was proposed, but, according to Orioles sources, the Yankees asked for $5,000 per person for every member of their traveling party -- 40 people in all -- plus a $50,000 donation to a charity. Typically, the 25 players are paid $2,000 extra for playing a day-night doubleheader, which increases the revenue generated by the home team but also allows fans who had tickets for the rainout to attend.

New York manager Joe Torre and general manager Bob Watson vehemently denied the "$5,000 for the traveling party" account, and one Yankees source said the players asked for $2,500 and a donation to charity.

Eventually, negotiations broke down at around 11 p.m. Friday, with the two sides agreeing to a traditional doubleheader.

Hoiles predicts hot streak

Slumping catcher Chris Hoiles said he is confident his play will improve in the second half.

NTC Hoiles was hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs after going 1-for-4 in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader. Hoiles isn't overjoyed with those stats, but his power numbers are on par with what he's done throughout his major-league career.

"I'm not saying I'm having a great season, but numbers can be deceiving," said Hoiles, who has averaged 19 homers and 53 RBIs. "I've always been a second-half player. That's the time when I usually get hot. Anybody can say I'm no good right now, but let's see what they have to say in September and October."

Hoiles has hit .283 after the All-Star break the last five years, compared with .256 before the break. However, he has hit 50 fewer homers in the second half during the last five years.

Mercker's time is coming

Before the doubleheader, Johnson reiterated that he was impressed with the strides left-hander Kent Mercker has made since being dropped from the rotation and that he planned to use him soon.

Soon came in Game 2 last night, Mercker's first appearance since June 18.

Mercker's velocity has dropped through the course of the season, but Johnson said he and pitching coach Pat Dobson have been very impressed with Mercker's progress lately.

"I like what I've seen," Johnson said. "I think we'll get him in a couple of games and if he's bringing it, maybe we'll start him."

Around the horn

Cal Ripken's two-run homer in the second game gave him 1,324 RBIs for his career, moving him past Duke Snider into 49th place on the all-time list. . . . Rafael Palmeiro broke a 1-for-23 slump with a single in the first inning of Game 1.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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