Polonia, heading toward exit, takes a shot Says O's are talented, but also selfish and intolerant of mistakes

Orioles Notebook

August 03, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Luis Polonia's career as an Oriole is over. And that's just fine with him.

Designated for assignment yesterday, Polonia sharply criticized the way the Orioles play, saying that while they have the talent to win, they won't unless they approach the game more unselfishly.

"This team can win, but there are a lot of things going on," said Polonia. "There are too many players worried about themselves. There are a lot of people criticizing you when you do something wrong, instead of picking you up."

The Orioles made the move with Polonia before yesterday's game, activating pitcher Arthur Rhodes, who allowed three runs (two earned) in two-thirds of an inning last night. After the game, the team also designated infielder Jeff Huson for assignment and activated pitcher Roger McDowell.

The Orioles have 10 days to trade, sell or release Polonia and Huson.

"They can have a heck of a team, I'm sure of that. I played for the New York Yankees in 1994, for Oakland when they were good. I played for the Atlanta Braves last year. This team [the Orioles] can be a great team. But people on the Orioles are always worrying about what other people do, criticizing, instead of just going out and playing the game right."

Players are critical? "Players and coaches," he said.

Polonia mentioned a play from the Minnesota series, when Twins designated hitter Paul Molitor hit a ground ball to first with a runner at second base and nobody out. "You don't see that here [with the Orioles]," Polonia said. "With these guys, if there's a runner at second, everybody wants to get that RBI. You don't see people try [to do things right].

"It's phony. They don't try."

Polonia made a number of base-running mistakes, which he acknowledged. "I'm going to be aggressive," he said. "That's the way I play. But when I get picked off trying to make something happen, I came back to the bench to see everybody complaining about it. What the heck is that?"

"They don't play the game right. There's too much talent for that."

Polonia batted .240 with eight stolen bases. "They're doing what they think is best for the team," Polonia said, "and what's best for me, and that's fine. I'd never get a chance, anyway. I can't see myself sitting and watching people who I'm better than."

Huson appeared in just 17 games, getting 28 at-bats. In dumping the left-handed-hitting Huson and Polonia, the Orioles have 12 pitchers and 13 position players, and three of their four bench players -- Manny Alexander, Bill Ripken and Mike Devereaux -- are right-handed hitters. Backup catcher Gregg Zaun is a switch-hitter.

Consultant for Dobson?

The Orioles have discussed internally the idea of using either minor-league instructor Moe Drabowsky or former Orioles pitching coach George Bamberger as a consultant to current pitching coach Pat Dobson, according to club sources.

Bamberger, 71, was the pitching coach of the Orioles from 1968 to 1977, but is retired and living in Florida. Drabowsky worked with the pitching staff during spring training.

Dobson said he knew nothing about the proposal. "I haven't heard anything like that," he said.

Switch in rotation

The Orioles will go to a four-man rotation -- sort of. Rick Krivda will start today and Rocky Coppinger tomorrow, Coppinger on the usual four days' rest. But David Wells will start Monday against the Indians on three days' rest and Mike Mussina will throw Tuesday against Milwaukee on five days' rest. Wells, successful against the Indians in the past, pushed for the move, and Mussina, who has been hit hard by Cleveland, had no problem with the change.

Talk about big deals

The Orioles seriously discussed a couple of blockbuster deals leading up to the trade deadline. First, with Cincinnati, they talked about swapping Bobby Bonilla and $700,000 -- or about half the money owed Bonilla for the rest of the season -- for outfielder Steve Gibralter, reliever Lee Smith and two minor-leaguers. With Cleveland, they talked about dealing left-hander David Wells and outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds for hard-throwing left-hander Alan Embree and outfielder Jeromy Burnitz. . . . The coaches have made a pact to shave their heads if an Orioles winning streak reaches 10 games. . . . Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said the team talked about the possibility of dealing almost every player leading to the trade deadline. . . . Roberto Alomar scored 17 runs in six games from July 26-31, smashing a club record of 12 runs in six games, set by Cal Ripken in 1991 and tied by Chris Hoiles in 1993.

Pub Date: 8/03/96

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