Moves leave Krivda on outside looking in



At the time, the consensus was that Rick Krivda had just won the biggest game of the year, beating the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 25 when the Orioles were struggling on the verge of losing their hold of the wild card.

Orioles manager Davey Johnson praised Krivda, and said he would feel quite comfortable starting the 1997 season with the 26-year-old left-hander in the rotation.

Apparently, that's not going to be the case. In fact, there's a good chance Krivda won't be with the Orioles when the season starts the result of a roster crunch.

The Orioles' rotation will include Mike Mussina, Jimmy Key, Scott Erickson, Rocky Coppinger and Shawn Boskie, and the front office is looking to trade for a left-hander who could bump Boskie to the bullpen. Barring injury, there doesn't seem to be much room for Krivda, who went 3-5 with a 4.96 ERA last season.

But Krivda is out of options, and cannot be sent to the minor leagues without being passed through waivers. He's left-handed and has had some success, so it's unlikely he could clear. The Orioles are more likely to trade him than lose him for the $20,000 waiver price.

There are other Orioles who will be affected by the influx of players. Mike Bordick signed a three-year deal to be the everyday shortstop, and nobody is pretending anymore that Manny Alexander has a future with the Orioles. He, too, is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors; he, too, will likely be traded (the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals have expressed interest) .

Eric Davis, Brady Anderson and B. J. Surhoff wil make up the outfield. There's no regular job available for Jeffrey Hammonds. who could use a change of scenery. If the Orioles don't trade him, it's doubtful they would keep him as a bench player. He needs to play every day to develop, and he has two minor-league options left. Tony Tarasco has one option remaining, and he can be sent to the minors if needed.

Catcher Cesar Devarez is out of options, and must be kept in the big leagues or passed through waivers and taken off the 40-man roster. Pitcher Jimmy Haynes has one option left. There is another round of Decisions coming in March.

B. Ripken male puzzling

Gillick and assistant general manager Kevin Malone have accomplished a lot this off-season improving the defense and bench signing Key, steering clear of the wild spending virus that has manifested itself in the offices of the Florida Marlins and Chicago White Sox. But the Orioles' decision to let Bill Ripken go didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Ripken did an excellent job as a utility man in 1996, sitting for weeks and then producing, always playing solid defense, always working hard. He wanted to play here, fans want him to play here and he didn't cost much-he signed a one-year, $275,000 deal with the Texas Rangers.

Get me to the trade on time

Padres general manager Kevin Towers stood outside a San Diego church Dec. 14, waiting for his bride to arrive, and one of his groomsmen, Detroit general manager Randy Smith, tried to think of a way to distract him.

They began to talk about a possible trade, renewing a conversation they started the night before at the rehearsal dinner, and just before Smith went to usher guests into the church, he and Towers agreed to a swap: Towers would give up pitcher Willie Blair and catcher Brian Johnson for pitcher Joey Eischen and a minor-leaguer. The trade was announced three days later. "It kept him from getting nervous," said Smith.

* Only nine players remain from the 40-man roster that Smith assumed when the Tigers hired him in October '95.

* If the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays come in as an AL team, look for them to be placed in the AL East, with the Tigers shifting to the Central and the Kansas City Royals moving to the West. Contending against traditional powers such as the Orioles, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays will be a huge task for a fledgling franchise.

* When the union finished applying all service time lost during the strike, Orioles outfielder Tarasco was left about six days short of qualifying for arbitration.

O's keep tabs on Minor

Orioles officials are closely monitoring the box scores of the Oklahoma City Cavalry of the Continental Basketball & 2/3 Association. That's where top minor-league prospect Ryan Minor trying to establish his basketball career, with marginal success. Minor is averaging about 23 minutes and Light points, not the kinds of numbers that will propel him into the NBA.

The Orioles are hoping he'll commit to baseball full time and develop his skills as a third baseman, believing he could evolve into a big-time power hitter. They're dangling an invitation to major-league spring training as bait, and probably will also give him a little more money, above and beyond the $100,000 bonus he'll receive.

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