Alomar's stardust not just memory All-Star MVP leads off with homer in 1st at-bat

Sidelight

July 10, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Roberto Alomar pulled on his uniform last night and said he was ready to go back to work in the grim world of Orioles baseball.

The man who climbed to the top of baseball's mountain two nights ago when he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 69th All-Star Game insisted he would be just as ready to play against the Boston Red Sox as he was in the mid-summer extravaganza at Coors Field in Denver.

And he wasn't kidding.

Alomar walked to the plate as the leadoff hitter in the first inning at Camden Yards and lofted a 2-1 pitch from Bret Saberhagen high over the right-field fence for a home run and a 1-0 lead for the Orioles.

Many fans rose to their feet to applaud Alomar, who appears prepared to go on a second-half tear amid all the speculation he could be traded before the July 31 deadline.

As his ninth homer disappeared over the high scoreboard wall, Alomar just lowered his head a little and trotted around the bases.

No showboating and no statements as a pending free agent, he said.

"I'm just going out and playing the game I love and having fun," he said. "I didn't make a statement in the All-Star Game. I don't have to make any statements. Our fans deserve a World Series and we're trying to do that. If it doesn't happen this year, hopefully it will be next year and I'll be part of it."

Alomar said he, Rafael Palmeiro and Cal Ripken dedicated their All-Star performances and 13-8 American League victory to Orioles fans.

"We have a lot of pride and we did a great job for our team but our fans deserve to be recognized," Alomar said.

Alomar lit up Coors Field on Tuesday night with three hits in four at-bats, including a solo home run, in addition to a stolen base, two runs scored, three putouts and one assist.

Palmeiro went 2-for-2 with one RBI and Ripken drove in two runs with a double off the right-field wall in the fourth inning.

"I'm proud of the way those three guys played in the All-Star Game," manager Ray Miller said. "That shows what kind of talent we have on this team and what we might be capable of doing in the second half."

But last night it was back to the stark reality of resuming a seemingly hopeless regular season.

The Orioles defeated the Red Sox, 3-2 last night, and are 14 1/2 games behind Boston in the fight for the American League wild-card berth. They remain 26 1/2 games behind the AL East first-place New York Yankees.

The Orioles are 2-9 in their past 11 games and began a tough climb.

"Let's see where we are at the end of the season," Alomar said. "I believe in taking it day by day and not pointing any fingers for why we're in the position we're in and all that went on in the first half."

So is Alomar poised to go on a second-half tear that would significantly raise his .293 average?

"I can't say that," he said. "I know I've played as hard as I could in the first half and I'm not going to say the All-Star Game performance will carry me to better things. It was one game but it was a special night for me. It came just one year after the death of my grandmother and it was an emotional night for Sandy [and me]."

Alomar remains philosophical.

"I've been on the bottom and I've been on top," he said. "Now I want this team to be on top."

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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