Never a dull Hairston moment Baysox infielder displays temper, then asked to show versatility at new position

Minor-league notebook

August 03, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The first half couldn't have been much more adventurous for Jerry Hairston.

He was involved in an altercation with pitchers from an opposing bullpen after being hit by pitches repeatedly in a series, jawed vigorously with a fan at another game and drew a three-game suspension for bumping an umpire.

Then, shortly after being voted the Carolina League's all-star shortstop in his division, he was shifted to second base at Frederick.

Something always seemed to happen around this highly competitive Orioles draftee, who is trying to become one of the rare third-generation family members to make the major leagues (the Boones and Bells have done it).

"Well, the fan was where he shouldn't have been -- in the dugout -- and yelling at us," said Hairston, who was recently promoted to Double-A Bowie and is thriving. "I lost my cool there because I was concerned about the safety of my teammates.

"As to the umpire, he called me out on a play at the plate when he had a bad angle. I thought I was in there, and it was a big game in the first half when we were struggling. I wanted to score so bad and lost my emotions a little."

He almost lost it again when he was told of the position change because "I was taken aback by that at first. I was getting comfortable. Then they talked a lot about [Roberto] Alomar leaving and them wanting to try me there. Then I understood."

Obviously, in the heat of the game, Hairston wears his heart on his uniform. But he is much more than a fiery cheerleader; he is a real prospect.

Grandfather Sam, who died in 1996, was the first African-American to play for the Chicago White Sox. His father, Jerry, played 859 games for the White Sox and his uncle, John, was briefly a Cub.

"Everybody in the family played," he said. "I went to the park a lot and followed my dad around. I talked to a lot of players, but Harold Baines was my favorite."

He learned the lessons. Hairston, 22, broke in last year by hitting .330 in the rookie league and playing in the postseason for Frederick and Bowie.

With the Keys this season, he batted .283 and said of his tribulations: "The game is testing me right now."

He grew up in the Chicago area as a catcher and moved to shortstop in high school. Happy to be in the Orioles' system, he hopes "I don't get traded away. I'd love to play in Baltimore. There's great fan support."

When? No hurry.

"It's everybody's goal to be in the bigs, but right now, I'm happy wherever I'm playing," he said. "My only goal is to improve on everything."

Rochester

Willis Otanez is bidding to become the first Red Wing to hit 30 home runs at Rochester since Terry Crowley in 1977. Jeff Manto had 31 International League homers four years ago, but four were hit for Norfolk before a trade. Otanez has reached a career high with 25 and is tied for the league lead. Ricky Otero is out for the season after tearing cartilage in his left knee while running after a ball in the outfield. He underwent surgery. The Red Wings lost pitchers who were a combined 15-1 when Joel Bennett (10-0) was claimed by Philadelphia when the Orioles designated him for assignment and veteran Steve Ontiveros (5-1) was released. Bennett is now with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In his past 24 appearances, Bobby Munoz has an 0.33 ERA.

Bowie

Calvin Pickering nearly had a four-homer game, getting three and having one fly caught on the warning track. He hit four in two games and joined the league home run leaders. Pickering batted .406 over a 16-game span. With a playoff berth still possible, the Baysox tonight launch a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season. They have been playing well at Prince George's Stadium lately, scoring 58 runs during a six-game winning streak. Pitching will be the key in the quest. In July, Bowie's bats awoke (2.92), but the mound corps had a 5.44 ERA. Hairston's 13-game hitting streak was the longest for any player at the start of a Baysox career.

Frederick

The Keys pulled their first triple play in nine years against Lynchburg. A line drive to shortstop was the first out. Mike Bell has moved into the closer role because of David Mastrolonardo's ineffectiveness. Bell had three saves, a win and an 0.93 ERA over five games. Josh Towers has hit more batters (10) than he has walked (nine). Over his past 55 innings, Towers has issued only one walk. The Keys lost one of their key starters, Chad Paronto (7-6) to Bowie. Paronto is scheduled to play at Bowie in the fall league.

Delmarva

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