Ehlo impostor has a day at park NBA fake gets brief visit, then is shown the exit

Orioles notebook

Marlins rough up Erickson

March 01, 1997|By Buster Olney and Roch Eric Kubatko | Buster Olney and Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Craig Ehlo, the NBA guard, has very blonde hair. The guy who showed up at the Orioles camp yesterday claiming to be Craig Ehlo had brown hair. But that did not stop Elho II from having a very good day.

The alleged Ehlo, accompanied by his alleged agent, talked his way through security yesterday and chatted over a fence with some Orioles. The alleged Ehlo said he was in town for the SuperSonics' game against Miami last night, and he was given an Orioles cap and a pouch of chewing tobacco.

Nobody did ask why the alleged Ehlo was drinking beer a few hours before tip-off, or if an NBA player would indulge in a plug of chaw. "He said he was Craig Ehlo," pitcher Brian Williams said. "I don't know if he was Craig Ehlo. He can be who he wants to be."

The alleged Ehlo briefly toured the Orioles' clubhouse, and public relations director John Maroon became suspicious. He asked Eric Davis if he knew what Craig Ehlo looked like, and Davis, a major NBA fan, stepped into some shower shoes, walked outside and took just one glance.

"That's not Craig Ehlo," Davis scoffed.

Maroon pulled the lawyer/agent/freeloader aside and said, "Look, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

The lawyer/agent/freeloader, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, replied, "OK," and he and his star client departed Fort Lauderdale Stadium happily.

Pitches, runs up

Orioles starter Scott Erickson couldn't keep the ball down yesterday, which meant he couldn't keep the score down, either.

Erickson was battered in his two innings against the Florida Marlins, giving up five runs and eight hits in the Orioles' 11-2 loss at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

"I just got the ball up. That was the main problem," he said. "I just didn't get the ball down like I need to pitch to be effective. Most of the balls were up, and they hit them.

"I got in a jam early and just didn't get out of it. I couldn't get back on track."

The first six Florida batters made solid contact, including Luis Castillo, who led off by lining out to center. Edgar Renteria roped a single to left, Gary Sheffield doubled in the game's first run, and former Oriole Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Devon White singled. Eisenreich's hit scored the second run, and a sacrifice fly by Jeff Conine made it 3-0.

Erickson, projected as the Orioles' No. 3 starter barring a trade, fell into immediate trouble in the second. Joe Orsulak, another former Oriole, doubled down the right-field line, moved to third on a single by Castillo and scored on a wild pitch, with Erickson failing to cover home. A two-out double by Eisenreich brought home the fifth run.

"Somebody like Erickson, who's noted as a sinkerball pitcher, the idea is to keep the ball down, get your ground balls," said catcher Lenny Webster, who made his first start yesterday. "Whenever he gets fly balls, he knows something's wrong. That was the case today. Everything was up and they were swinging at a lot of first pitches.

"I'm sure Scotty feels we've got some work to do and iron a few things out. That's why we're down here."

With this being the Marlins' exhibition opener, most of their starters were in the lineup. "That doesn't matter one bit," Erickson said. "It's the fact I didn't make good pitches. Anybody can hit bad pitches."

Erickson was more upset that he didn't break for home on the wild pitch. "That was the most negative thing. No matter what, that should not happen," he said.

"You're going to give up hits and have days like that on the mound, but you've got to do the fundamentals and the basics."

O's, Tarasco agree

The Orioles have agreed to terms with outfielder Tony Tarasco on a '97 contract, for $245,000 with the following incentives: $5,000 if he appears in 65 games, $10,000 if he plays in 85 games, another $10,000 for 100 games, another $10,000 for games.

Five players are unsigned, including reliever Armando Benitez and Manny Alexander, and if the quintet doesn't agree to terms by Sunday, the Orioles will renew their contracts unilaterally.

"We're working on them, and we hope to have them done," said Kevin Malone, the Orioles' assistant GM.

Reliever Alan Mills pulled off an early spring trade yesterday morning when he talked catcher Chris Hoiles into swapping caps. Hoiles was sitting in front of his locker, wearing a new black cap with an orange bill and the inscription "Game Face." Mills stopped by and offered his white one with a black bill in exchange.

"This one has you written all over it," Mills said, giving the kind of sales pitch usually found on used car lots. Mills, growing more desperate, even told Hoiles that he loved him.

"I love you, too, but. " Hoiles said, before reluctantly making the trade.

Wearing his new cap and a sly grin, Mills embraced Hoiles twice before walking away the clear winner.

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