Young, restless get look at major leagues Hairston 0-for-3 in debut

Orioles Notebook

Forbes, Fussell, Minor, Pickering also get call-up

September 12, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Staff writer Christian Ewell contributed to this article.

Perhaps it was mere coincidence that on the same day the Orioles became younger with another infusion of minor-league talent, one of the clubhouse televisions was tuned to "Barney," the children's program. And the screen just happened to be above the locker of infielder Jerry Hairston, who began the year at Single-A Frederick.

Hairston, 22, was among four players brought up yesterday. First baseman Calvin Pickering, infielder P. J. Forbes and pitcher Chris Fussell also were added, and third baseman Ryan Minor was given medical clearance to join the club today after having his sore wrist examined by an orthopedic doctor.

Forbes was summoned from Triple-A Rochester for the second time this season. His only major-league hit came July 31.

Hairston was the first of the three newcomers to get his feet wet. He started at second base last night, with Roberto Alomar serving as the designated hitter. An 11th-round selection in the 1997 draft, Hairston began the year as a shortstop at Single-A Frederick before moving to second base and being promoted to Double-A Bowie. In 135 games, he hit .302 with 34 doubles, six triples, 10 homers, 70 RBIs and 98 runs scored.

Checking the lineup card outside manager Ray Miller's office, Hairston said he couldn't believe his eyes when locating his name near the bottom.

"I looked on the board to see what time we were stretching. Then I saw the lineup. You see Ripken, Alomar, Anderson, and then you see Hairston. I did a double-take," he said.

"This is the way a ballplayer likes it. You throw him in the fire."

It's easier when the player isn't worried about getting burned. Hairston said he didn't know who was pitching for Anaheim, so he had no idea his debut would come against Chuck Finley, one of the league's toughest left-handers.

"You just say, 'Here he is, kid. Go get him.' I think it's better that way for veteran players, too," Miller said.

Hairston went 0-for-3, but scored a run when he reached on a fielder's choice.

Hairston's father, the former Chicago White Sox infielder of the same name, attended last night's game. He wasn't aware that his son would be in the starting lineup when they spoke earlier in the day, and Hairston wasn't seeking any last-minute advice.

"I don't know if I want to talk to him," he said. "I just want to go out there and play and really not think about it."

He's taking the same approach about the possibility of replacing Alomar next season if the second baseman leaves as a free agent.

"I'm not worrying about that," he said. "I don't know what the situation is with the Orioles and their infielders. I just have to worry about myself. There are only certain things you can control."

To make room for Hairston and Pickering on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred Scott Kamieniecki and Willis Otanez to the 60-day disabled list. Catcher Melvin Rosario, who split the season between Rochester and Bowie, was designated for assignment to clear a spot for Minor.

Coppinger to get start

Rookie right-hander Sidney Ponson will have tomorrow's start pushed back to Tuesday, giving the blister on his right index finger more time to heal. Rocky Coppinger, recalled from Rochester last Saturday, will make his first start with the Orioles since May 11, 1997.

Ponson hasn't pitched since leaving his Sept. 2 start against Chicago after 5 2/3 innings when a blister opened while throwing a xTC fastball. "It's doing all right. It'll definitely be better a couple days from now," he said.

Coppinger has made one appearance since rejoining the Orioles, tossing 2 2/3 shutout innings against Seattle on Monday night.

Percival well-rested

Angels closer Troy Percival's arm is not the concern it was a week ago, manager Terry Collins said.

Percival was sidelined for a week for reasons thought to be stemming from a tired arm. But Collins called Percival's arm a "a non-concern" after he made an appearance Wednesday night against Minnesota, striking out two.

"He's been in one game in the past 10 days, so he's pretty well-rested," Collins said.

Around the horn

Collins pulled right fielder Garret Anderson from the game for not running out a ground ball to the mound that ended the third inning. "It's not a big deal," Anderson said. "That's what he had to do. I messed up." The Angels acquired first baseman Mark Johnson from Cincinnati's Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, and right-hander Brian Cooper was designated for assignment. Johnson batted .239 with 30 homers and 104 RBIs in 284 games with Pittsburgh from 1995 to 1997.

Orioles today

Opponent: Anaheim Angels

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 1: 15

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Steve Sparks (9-3, 4.47) vs. Orioles' Mike Mussina (13-8, 3.45) Tickets: Scattered singles

Pub Date: 9/12/98

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