Alvie Shepherd, the Orioles' No. 1 pick in 1995, isn't going to make the club's Opening Day roster. But he will get a chance to show his stuff in spring training -- Shepherd is one of 16 nonroster players the Orioles have invited to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A handful of the 16 are all but assured of being with the team when it opens the '97 season against Kansas City on April 1, like pitcher Shawn Boskie, catcher Lenny Webster and outfielder Jerome Walton. And if Kelly Gruber, attempting a comeback after sitting out the last three seasons, plays well, he'll probably be with the Orioles.
Others are being invited to get a taste of the big-league experience -- Shepherd and fellow pitching prospects Chris Fussell, Sidney Ponson, Brian Shouse and Matt Snyder, all likely ticketed for Double-A, are seen as part of the club's future.
"This will give the coaching staff a chance to see these guys," said general manager Pat Gillick.
Shepherd pitched erratically out of the bullpen last season at Single-A Frederick, but quickly improved after being switched to the rotation. He continued to pitch well in winter ball in Hawaii, going 5-0 with a 3.32 ERA and allowing only 13 walks in 57 innings.
Also invited are catchers Ryan Luzinski, the son of former major-leaguer Greg Luzinski, and Melvin Rosario, acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres last season; pitchers Giovanni Carrara, who had a good season in winter ball, and Billy Percibal, coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery; first baseman Drew Denson, a veteran of 1,243 minor-league games; and middle infielders Francisco Matos and Augie Ojeda. Either Matos or Ojeda could actually serve as the Opening Day second baseman, and for the Orioles' four subsequent games, because of the five-game suspension Roberto Alomar must serve.
The Orioles may eventually extend an invitation to third base prospect Ryan Minor, but only if Minor -- currently playing in the Continental Basketball Association -- commits to baseball full time by the end of January.
In other Orioles news:
As a precursor to serious negotiations for a long-term contract, Gillick and Kevin Malone drove to Montoursville, Pa., last Wednesday to meet with pitcher Mike Mussina; Gillick and Malone did not speak to Mussina by phone, as reported here Sunday. Mussina could meet with Gillick and Malone later this week, while attending team functions.
The Orioles may take a look at signing veteran reliever Tim Scott, who is coming back from shoulder problems. Gillick said Scott's agent pitched the idea recently, but that club officials really hadn't looked deeply into the possibility. Scott, who pitched with Montreal and San Francisco last year, suffered from tendinitis last season.
The Orioles are looking into the possibility of signing minor-league free-agent pitcher Steve Schrenk, 28, who went 4-10 with a 4.42 ERA at Triple-A Nashville last season. Schrenk went 14-6 for Nashville in '94, but was hampered by injury for most of '95.
Pub Date: 1/14/97