Intentionally or not, Alomar shows impeccable timing

July 08, 1998|By KEN ROSENTHAL

DENVER — Due to an editing error in yesterday's final edition, a quote from the Orioles' Roberto Alomar was attributed to his brother, the Cleveland Indians' Sandy Alomar Jr., incorrectly stating his free-agent status. Sandy Alomar is signed with the Indians through next season with a club option through 2000.

The Sun regrets the error.

DENVER -- For one night, he was the old Robbie Alomar, beating out a bunt single, stealing a base, hitting a home run.

Showcase, anyone?

This is what happens when Alomar wants to play. He turned it on in the All-Star Game last night, and again looked like one of the best players in the world.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Alomar finished 3-for-4 with a walk in the American League's 13-8 victory, giving his family back-to-back All-Star MVPs and causing Mike Hargrove to gush: "Any manager would love to have Robbie Alomar."

Sandy and Robbie embraced on the dugout steps afterward, evoking memories of their emotional meeting after Robbie hit the home run to beat Cleveland in the 1996 Division Series.

Who knows?

Within a matter of weeks, the brothers might be teammates.

"It's out of my hands," Alomar said. "I don't have any control of that. I'm real happy where I am now with the Baltimore Orioles. I'm looking forward to the second half, see if we can turn some things around.

"Yes, it's a dream for me to play with Sandy on the same team. We don't know if it's going to happen."

No, they don't, but Robbie is a potential free agent, and the Orioles know he could bring more in a trade than any of their other players.

Last night provided the latest proof.

This was the old Robbie, all right, and, as usual, his timing was impeccable. Indeed, Alomar might as well have just worn a sign on his back that said, "Second baseman for hire."

Orioles fans probably are wondering why Alomar hasn't played like this all season, but no longer is that the issue at hand.

Hargrove got an up-close-and-personal look at how Alomar could help his team, and he just happens to manage the Cleveland Indians.

Kenny Lofton and Alomar, not a bad 1-2 punch at the top of the order, eh, Mike? Omar Vizquel and Alomar, not a bad double-play combination, huh?

"Stay tuned," Sandy Alomar said, smiling. "A lot of things can happen. There are a lot of rumors. But we have no control over that.

"It would be really exciting to play with him. As you can see, he'd be a great addition to the offense with Kenny Lofton. Right now, David Bell is doing a great job at second. But Mike Hargrove is still in there. Go ask him."

Mike?

"I think that any manager out there would love to have Robbie Alomar playing for his team," Hargrove said. "There are so many things Robbie can do. He's a very attractive and valuable player.

"That's about the control I have over it. The last time I heard, he was still under contract to the Baltimore Orioles."

True, but Cleveland general manager John Hart had to like what he saw. Ditto for Atlanta's John Schuerholz, and any other GM seeking an over-the-top talent.

This was the Alomar who shone in the first half of 1996, the gamer who hit one homer to put the Orioles in the playoffs, another to win the Division Series.

This was not the Alomar whose effort has been so inconsistent this season, the potential free agent who has left fans and club officials so disappointed.

Never mind the potential double-play grounder that the second baseman failed to backhard, giving Tony Gwynn a two-run single. Alomar ran hard to beat out a bunt single, drew a walk to load the bases, went deep off San Diego's Trevor Hoffman.

He did the little things. He did the big things. He did everything. If Orioles fans felt cheated watching, they at least can take consolation knowing that Alomar raised his trade value.

Oh, it was a grand night for Team Titanic. Cal Ripken hit a two-run double off the right-field wall. Rafael Palmeiro went 2-for-2, scored a run, drove in another. And Alomar never stopped.

The six hits by the Orioles were the most by teammates since 1976, when the Cincinnati Reds produced seven.

How is it possible that the Orioles are 600 games out of first place?

Uh, next question.

Hargrove, seemingly delighted with the prospect of a new toy, put Alomar in motion three times in the first inning. The second baseman didn't steal then, but took third on the front end of a double steal in the sixth.

"I played with the father, and I've been fortunate to watch both these young men play," Hargrove said of the Alomar brothers. "They're a very talented duo. I don't think anything they do should surprise us."

The Indians long for another right-handed bat, and the switch-hitting Alomar would represent a significant upgrade at second over Bell.

On the other hand, Hart could opt to make his big trade for Randy Johnson, giving Cleveland a potential playoff rotation of Johnson, Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon.

As a free agent, Alomar will be available at the end of the season, and the Indians would lose only draft picks if they signed him then, rather than quality young players.

Still, the Indians aren't the only potential suitor for Alomar. The Braves badly need a leadoff hitter. And as good as the New York Yankees have looked, clubs in both leagues know that they might be vulnerable in a short series, and that Alomar could make the difference.

For one night, the old Robbie was back, displaying his dizzying array of skills. It just so happens that the trade deadline is 23 days away. It just so happens that the entire baseball world was watching.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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