Shorebirds' playoff path figures to be uphill climb

`Pretty young club' needs time to get acquainted

April 09, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Delmarva Shorebirds have been the most consistent winning team in the Orioles' organization of late, but new manager Butch Davis might have trouble producing another playoff team.

"We've got our hands full," said the former Oriole, who moves up to Single-A after two seasons as the skipper at Rookie-level Gulf Coast. "It's a pretty young club and right now I'm not sure how good we can be because this entire roster has only been together for a couple games. We're going to have to minimize our mistakes."

The Shorebirds can be expected to threaten the South Atlantic League attendance record they set two years ago after dressing up the luxury level of Perdue Stadium in Salisbury. They normally draw about 300,000 for the season.

"This is a big year for us because we've got the league all-star game June 27 with a lot of activities, golf, a reception," said general manager Jim Terrill. "And the Fan Card promotion [incentives for attending games] should be popular."

Delmarva does not figure to be a power-laden team, so the pitching will have to be strong.

"We have to get good, aggressive pitching," Davis said. "We've got a lot of talent and speed, so we'll have to hit and run, steal and manufacture runs."

The outfield figures to be the roster's highlight with the speedy Tim Raines Jr., who is now switch-hitting, coming off a 37-steal performance during a short season at Gulf Coast, and No. 1 sandwich pick Ntema Ndungidi looking to pick up from the .425 August he compiled at Bluefield last summer.

But Ndungidi's seven homers were the most by any Shorebird.

Delmarva opened its season last night at Macon, Ga., in the first of eight road games on the way home from training camp.

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