Hammonds: win 'just a start' Outfielder dissatisfied with his and team's play

Sidelight

May 01, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- Like everyone else in the Orioles' clubhouse, Jeffrey Hammonds hasn't liked what he has seen this month. Like few others in the Orioles' lineup yesterday, he did something about it.

In his first two at-bats, Hammonds doubled and homered off White Sox starting pitcher Scott Eyre to drive in two of the Orioles' runs in a 4-1 win. Hammonds liked his hits, liked the win and liked being in the lineup for the third time in four days. However, he hasn't been thrilled with a veteran team's underachieving start.

"We haven't played well all season," said Hammonds, who homered in both games of the Orioles' split with the White Sox. "Even when we were 10-2, we weren't playing good. We were playing good enough. Now that other teams have picked it up, just playing 'good enough' isn't enough."

Hammonds refused to dump the blame for a 4-11 skid on a pitching staff recently incapable of finding a competent start. Like the pitching, the hitting ranks among the league's bottom five. The transition under first-year manager Ray Miller to a more aggressive running game has produced only 50 percent success when stealing.

"We haven't pitched well. But we also haven't hit well, haven't fielded well, haven't run the bases well," Hammonds said.

Hammonds judged yesterday "just a start." The outfielder was referring both to himself and the team. He entered the two-game series riding a 4-for-33 slump but crashed a window-dressing home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 16-7 loss before producing crucial hits yesterday. After Chris Hoiles led off the second inning with a walk, Hammonds drove a double to left-center field. Hoiles scored one out later on Jeff Reboulet's grounder to short.

The next inning, with Hoiles again aboard after a walk, Hammonds mashed a 403-foot home run to center field, his second in three at-bats, the Orioles' second of the inning and his team's fifth in two games. The late personal rally gives the platoon player three home runs and 11 RBIs, putting him ahead of last April's production (two homers, eight RBIs) despite receiving 18 fewer at bats.

"No one's happy the way we've been playing," Hammonds said. "But instead of looking around at everybody else, we need to look in the mirror."

Pub Date: 5/01/98

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