Kingsale happy to touch base Answering O's call beats 1st HR in minors for call-up

Orioles Notebook

Down manages for Miller

September 02, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Bill Free contributed to this article.

Eugene Kingsale hit his first professional home run last week after 1,028 at-bats, a monstrous drive at Double-A Bowie that belied his slight frame. That may have been the highlight of his season.

Not anymore. It was trumped yesterday by the excitement of joining the Orioles, who added three players to their roster.

Kingsale was plucked from Bowie and brought to the majors for the second time. The switch-hitting outfielder appeared in three games with the Orioles in 1996 as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. But he never got close last season, making three stops on the disabled list because of a sprained knee ligament and a broken hand (twice), and playing in only 19 games combined with the Baysox and in the Gulf Coast League.

Plagued by injuries since signing as a non-drafted free agent five years ago, Kingsale batted .262 with 34 RBIs for the Baysox this year. He also had a brief stint at Triple-A Rochester and figured that was as far as he'd go until being told of his promotion by Bowie manager Joe Ferguson after Monday's game.

"I was surprised. I wasn't expecting it even though I had an OK year," said Kingsale, 22, among four Aruban players to reach the majors. All were signed by the Orioles.

"I could have done better, but I was glad that I was healthy and playing. I appreciate this a lot."

Manager Ray Miller expects to use Kingsale primarily as a pinch runner, though he also can fill in for center fielder Brady Anderson, who is playing with a slightly torn patella tendon in his right knee.

"They told me I was definitely going to get some playing time," he said. "I'm looking forward to that. Anything that can help the team win."

"There's some speed," said hitting coach Rick Down. "He's a guy who can hopefully add another dimension off the bench."

Kingsale won't dare predict hitting a home run here, not after waiting so long for the first one.

"It just happened. I was surprised I hit it that good," he said. "I knew it was gone. I just ran the bases with a big smile on my face."

The Orioles also added catcher Charlie Greene and outfielder Lyle Mouton from Triple-A Rochester. Both players were making return trips this season.

Mouton started in right field last night, with Danny Clyburn moving to left and B. J. Surhoff going to the bench. Rich Becker started in center field, giving the Orioles an outfield consisting of one player (Mouton) who began the year in Japan, another (Becker) who opened with the New York Mets, and a third (Clyburn) who joined Rochester after coming off the disabled list.

Down takes the helm

Down ran the club last night while Miller returned to his home in New Athens, Ohio, after the death of his father-in-law Monday morning. Jack Graham, 71, had been battling colon cancer.

Miller will attend the 1 p.m. funeral and try to return by the start of tonight's game, but he wrote out a lineup in case he's late. "I don't see him arriving until after the game starts," Down said.

Down managed two games last season while Davey Johnson attended to personal business in Florida, and took over seven times this year when Miller was ejected. He was runner-up to Terry Collins for the Anaheim Angels' job last year, and has managed six years in the minor leagues, twice winning the Governor's Cup with Triple-A Columbus.

Asked how he was approaching his assignment last night, Down said, "Like I'm going to win a ballgame. Ray gave me a lineup, but once the game starts I'll make the decisions.

"It's an honor to be given the responsibility to manage a club like the Baltimore Orioles. These are terrible circumstances and I wish he was here and he could manage himself, but that's not the case."

Too many men on field?

Before last night, the Orioles had scored four runs in their past three games, and Down had grown tired of seeing balls hit hard and right at someone. He was beginning to wonder if the other side was playing with an unfair advantage.

"It looks like there's 20 people out there. What's the story, man? Somebody better keep track, count how many people are on the field. They might be sneaking somebody in there when we're not looking," he said.

"That's just the way it goes. It's a situation where we've had some good at-bats, we're swinging at some good pitches, we're working counts, we're doing everything you're supposed to do to be a good-hitting ballclub, but we've been better than we've been lucky. That's going to happen to you over the course of a season."

The Orioles' difficulty in manufacturing runs doesn't surprise Down.

"This ballclub isn't patterned or designed to manufacture runs," he said. "We're a team that drives the ball, hits the ball into the gaps and looks for extra-base hits and home runs to score runs. This is not a bunt, get-them-over, sacrifice-fly type of ballclub."

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