Miller solidifies plans Guillen can only wait

Orioles notebook

Veteran hopes manager opts for extra position player over 12th pitcher

March 23, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles had an organizational meeting last night to discuss final roster moves, and Ray Miller said he already has informed several players that they didn't make the club. Miller has the 25-man roster in mind, including the decision to keep either an extra infielder or 12th pitcher, but probably won't make it official until tomorrow when the next round of cuts are announced.

"By then everybody will know, barring injuries, who's on the team and who's not," he said.

Veteran Ozzie Guillen most likely will go to Baltimore as the second utility player, with left-hander Doug Johns ending up at Triple-A Rochester. There was early talk of Nerio Rodriguez making the staff if Miller went with 12 pitchers, but the preference within the organization is for the right-hander to continue his development by starting every fifth day at Rochester.

Guillen was packing his belongings into a box after yesterday's 3-2 win over Montreal, not knowing if its destination was Baltimore or his home in Caracas, Venezuela.

"No trade, no minor leagues," said Guillen, who has played all four infield positions and left field, but is batting only .147 (5-for-34).

"When I came to spring training, they knew what I could do," said the 13-year Chicago White Sox shortstop. "I'm pretty happy with the spring training I've had, I'm happy with this team, and hopefully they need me. You ask anybody around here, I go about my job and go about my business. Anything the manager wants me to do, I've been ready to do it.

"Exactly what they told me to do the day they signed me, I did. Play everywhere, play good everywhere, and I've had good at-bats. My attitude in the clubhouse and dugout is good. I'll be happy to help this team win. More than happy. I'd feel proud."

Miller said he'll bring six extra players north for Sunday's exhibition game against the New York Mets at Camden Yards, "just so I don't have to overtax anybody."

Given the choice, Miller would skip this last week of camp. "I'd like to open right now very much."

Center stage

Seeing the way Mike Bordick and Jeff Reboulet continue to field their positions with deceptive ease, and the strides Roberto Alomar has made after an injury-filled 1997 season, brings another reminder to third base coach Sam Perlozzo of how strong the Orioles are defensively up the middle.

"Between Mike and Rebs, it seems like they never get an easy play," he said. "For not getting in as much, it seems like every time [Reboulet's] in there, the ball's hit to him, it's a tough play and it's always in a late-game situation."

Alomar's tremendous range was limited last year by ankle and groin injuries, but Perlozzo said the second baseman appears to be all the way back. He was charged with his first error of the spring yesterday on a hard smash that bounced off his chest.

"As far as defense is concerned, I don't see Robbie having any limitations. And base running, I don't see any problems."

Alomar has cleared another hurdle, batting right-handed after surgery on his left shoulder.

"Offensively, I think he's probably fine and I think he's probably just taking it a little easy," Perlozzo said. "He's got that stroke down to right field where he doesn't really have to extend, but PTC that's just a matter of him continuing to build on his confidence and I think it's more a fear factor than a medical problem. I don't think there's a medical problem anymore. When the bell rings, he wants to be 100 percent ready and that's the way he's approaching it."

Speedy flashback

Perlozzo said watching Eric Davis aggressively run the bases Saturday brought back "major shades" of their time together (1990-91) in Cincinnati. Davis hustled from first to third on a single to left field by Cal Ripken, positioning himself to score on a Harold Baines fly ball.

"He was so good on the bases [in Cincinnati], he had such a knack for what he was doing, that it brought flashbacks with the Reds," said Perlozzo, who earlier in camp had Davis speak to the club during base-running drills.

"You can't teach what Eric does. I wish I could say I could. When I go out there, I ask him, 'What are you looking at?' He probably couldn't tell me what he was doing. He just goes out and does it. He has that knack and he has a little bit of daring in him, and that makes him even more dangerous. That's the way I saw this guy when he was the superstar in the game. You couldn't throw him out. If he was going to steal a base, it was pretty much in the bag."

This kind of aggression on the base paths, especially early in a game against a tough pitcher, will be more prevalent with the Orioles this season, Perlozzo said.

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