Umpire: No meeting with Alomar Apology after season enough for Hirschbeck

Orioles notebook

April 20, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

BOSTON -- When John Hirschbeck steps onto the same field as Roberto Alomar on Tuesday night, the veteran American League umpire insists there will be no leftover resentment toward the Orioles' second baseman.

Insisting "it's over," Hirschbeck says he feels no need to participate in an arranged meeting with the player who spat on him during an on-field argument last Sept. 27 in Toronto.

The incident, which all parties now seek to downplay, caused an uproar that led to Alomar's five-game suspension and a near-boycott of the postseason by umpires from both leagues.

Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox will mark the first time that Hirschbeck has worked a game involving Alomar since the incident in Toronto. Hirschbeck is scheduled to work the plate Wednesday.

"It was over for me a long time ago. I have a lot more things in my life," he said yesterday after working the Indians-Brewers game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. "I try to get every pitch right. I try to get every play right. That's how I'll approach going into Baltimore on Tuesday. As far as that whole situation goes, it's over."

Alomar and the Orioles each have made $50,000 donations to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. One of Hirschbeck's sons died in 1993 of adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a neurological illness, and had been treated at the institute.

Alomar said that Hirschbeck's personality changed since the death, and those comments sent Hirschbeck into a rage the day after the incident. Hirschbeck had to be restrained from entering the Orioles' clubhouse by the remainder of his crew and sat out the Sept. 28 game.

Several parties, including Orioles owner Peter Angelos, had suggested a pre-game meeting between the player and umpire. Hirschbeck said he "only heard rumors" of such an idea and would decline if he is formally asked.

"Last year when the incident happened, I read his apology in the paper. Then I made the statement to forgive was for the good of baseball. Whatever date I did that it was over as far as I was concerned," Hirschbeck said.

"I don't hold a grudge. There's a lot of times in baseball when you throw people out of games. Every day is a new day. [Tuesday's] a new day."

Hirschbeck says he has long been fond of Baltimore and does not anticipate a hostile reception by fans at Camden Yards.

"I don't know why anybody would be mad at me," he said. Having seen Kansas City, Chicago and Boston in April, Davey Johnson has finally seen enough. The Orioles had their fourth rainout in 10 days yesterday and Johnson wants a talk with the schedule-maker.

The Orioles face a brutal April and May. Besides playing in a Missouri snow squall last week and nearly icing over in Chicago, the club can look forward to 19 dreaded two-game series, nine of them on the road.

Thanks to interleague play, the Orioles do not make logical road trips from New York to Boston, Cleveland to Detroit or Chicago to Milwaukee.

The lowlights include a seven-city tour in an 18-day span next month. And there is a potential glut of makeup games in June and July.

"I would like to know why that is," Johnson said before yesterday's second consecutive rainout. "Last year was bad. I mentioned [the schedule] to the people in New York and they responded by sending us the worst one. It's going to get so bad we'll never play Boston then New York. We'll never be able to bus it to Philly because we'll be flying in from Anaheim."

Johnson knows the dilemma. While logic dictates that early-season games be played in warm-weather cities, teams dread an overabundance of home games while school is in session.

More pressing to Johnson is the imbalance created by interleague play. Under the former system, teams played one another 12 or 13 times. With interleague play, teams no longer have all opponents in common. Hence, a weak National League West would aid the Seattle Mariners or Texas Rangers in a wild-card race against the Orioles.

No makeup set

The Red Sox did not announce when yesterday's rainout would be rescheduled, but it will not take place during this homestand.

What was originally a two-game series June 10-11 has grown to four games. Friday's makeup will take place June 12, originally a day off devoted to playing the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Rochester, N.Y. Barring further postponements, a June 11 twi-night doubleheader appears the best guess for yesterday's makeup.

Red Sox juggle rotation

Red Sox manager Jimy Williams has determined that pitcher Tim Wakefield will miss a turn, meaning the Orioles will not face him in tomorrow morning's Patriots Day start.

This is good news to a team Wakefield shut down, 2-0, on July 20 last season. Although Wakefield was only 1-2 against the Orioles in '96, the Orioles lost six of their next seven while scoring only 22 runs after facing the disconcerting knuckleballer the first time. After their third game against him, the Orioles finished the regular season scoring 10 runs in four games.

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