Ex-Oriole Zaun has seen highs, lows in short Marlins span

July 02, 1998|By Eduardo A. Encina | Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

This series has marked former Orioles catcher Gregg Zaun's first return to Baltimore as a member of the Florida Marlins.

Since the August 1996 trade that sent him to Florida, Zaun has played behind All-Star catcher Charles Johnson, earned a World XTC Series ring, and seen first hand the dismantling of the world champs.

"I thought being traded was the end of the world," Zaun said before the series opener. "But it turned out to have a silver lining. I think winning the World Series involves some deal of luck of being in the right place at the right time."

When Johnson was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month, Zaun became the Marlins' starter, an opportunity he never got with the Orioles.

"It feels great to be back here," said Zaun, the nephew of former Oriole Rick Dempsey. "I had some great times here and was an Orioles fan before I was an Orioles player, and I've always felt a kinship with the fans. But I would never trade in my days in Florida. They gave me the opportunity to play and that's all I've ever asked for."

Since picking up the starting duties, Zaun has struggled, hitting .166, with four homers and 13 RBIs.

"The slow start puts a little bit of pressure on me, but I only have 144 at-bats," Zaun said, "which gives me some room to still put up good numbers."

Another adaptation for Zaun has come from being thrust into a role of seniority, especially when he's handling a rotation that has an average age of just under 22.

"I think I can relate with them more so than an overshadowing guy like Charles or Pudge Rodriguez," said Zaun. "I'm a guy who's just been around a few years. It's not as intimidating for them. I've hopefully developed a rapport with them."

The player Zaun was dealt for, pitcher Terry Mathews, was designated for assignment Tuesday.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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