Hoiles puts O's role on hold

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Happy at home, ex-catcher puts off roving instructor job

Happy at home, ex-catcher puts off roving instructor job

Coppinger yields 3 HRs

May 24, 1999|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles has notified the club that he will at least postpone accepting an offer to serve as a roving minor-league catching instructor. Hoiles, in town this weekend to attend a birthday party for bullpen catcher Sammy Snider, said he experienced second thoughts after immediately accepting the position following his April 2 release.

"Once I had some time to think about it, I decided I'd like to spend some time away from baseball," he said. "I've been away from my family a lot during my playing career. Taking a little time to kick back, take a little time off and experience some other things sounded like the right thing to do."

Hoiles, 34, and his wife, Dana, are building a home near Bowling Green, Ohio. The couple has two sons, including a 7-month-old, that further influenced his decision to reconsider the coaching opportunity.

"At the time, it sounded like a good idea. But there was so much going on. I'd been involved with baseball my entire life and I guess my first reaction was to try to hang on to something. I appreciated the offer, but at this time I'd like to wait," he said.

Hoiles also has immersed himself in ownership of a Busch Series race team. He recently secured a corporate sponsor for the entire 2000 season and intends to enter a car in next weekend's Grand National event in Charlotte, N.C.

"That's part of it," Hoiles said. "We're expecting to get pretty involved and that will require a greater commitment as it goes along."

While refusing to rule out his future involvement with the Orioles, Hoiles' long-term goal is to head a NASCAR team.

The Orioles are paying Hoiles $3.7 million this season, the final installment of a five-year deal. General manager Frank Wren's off-season acquisition of Gold Glove catcher Charles Johnson and Hoiles' degenerating hip condition made his return an unlikely proposition entering spring training. When he experienced difficulty adjusting to first base, Hoiles was deemed expendable. On the day of his release, the Orioles traded for Kansas City Royals first baseman Jeff Conine.

Hoiles initially embraced the thought of staying in touch with the organization that traded for him in the 1988 Fred Lynn deal and installed him as its starting catcher in 1991.

Hoiles enjoyed two 25-home run seasons in an eight-year major-league career. Last season in a catching time-share with Lenny Webster, he batted .262 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs. His year was highlighted on Aug. 14 when he became the ninth player in major-league history to hit two grand slams in the same game.

Easy does it, Harold

Harold Baines didn't start for the third straight game, as manager Ray Miller continues to proceed with caution regarding his designated hitter's sore quadriceps.

Baines, who is hitting .406 (13-for-32) in his past eight games, said his legs were feeling "a lot better" yesterday but agreed it was wise to remain out of the lineup. He also said the discomfort began while the club was in Texas last week.

"It steadily got to the point where they wanted me to shut it down and not let it become a problem," said Baines, who missed about three weeks last summer because of a pulled hamstring.

"I've never dealt with a quad before. Last year, I was stubborn and wanted to play and it cost me."

Miller said the soreness is confined to Baines' legs and isn't related to his lower back.

"It's the same thing as last year. He gets tired and if he keeps pushing it, it's going to pop," Miller said. "We're trying to use patience, but it's hard to do right now."

Heart to heart

Miller met individually with some of his pitchers yesterday, including closer Mike Timlin, who blew his third save in his last four opportunities Saturday.

"When he's throwing 92, 93 [mph], he hits an occasional 94 with two strikes and gets an occasional strikeout, but for the most part the 91, 92 is a good sinker down in the strike zone," Miller said. "I told him I'm seeing 94, 95 up in the strike zone, which tells me he's kind of overstriding, trying not to let anybody hit the ball, and that's when you get yourself in trouble.

"I know he's trying his heart out and he's a stand-up guy. That's one thing I respect."

Miller also spoke to 42-year-old left-hander Jesse Orosco, who didn't retire either batter he faced Saturday, including left-handed-hitting Rafael Palmeiro. He has allowed four runs (three earned) in his past 2 2/3 innings, though he threw a perfect 1 1/3 innings against Anaheim on Thursday.

The manager doesn't see a drop in Orosco's velocity, which lessens his concerns.

"You don't quit on Jesse. He has a pretty remarkable track record," Miller said.

Jump back, Cal

Umpire attendant Ernie Tyler worked his 3,100th consecutive regular-season home game, which dates to Opening Day 1960. Tyler began as a part-time usher at Memorial Stadium during the Orioles' first season in 1954.

Surhoff's spree

Orioles left fielder B. J. Surhoff extended his hitting streak to 14 games last night, batting .387 during that span.

Date Opp. H-AB R BI Res.

5/9 Det 1-4 1 1 W 5-0

5/10 Cle 1-5 1 0 L 6-4

5/11 Cle 3-5 0 2 L 11-6

5/12 Cle 3-5 2 1 L 6-5

5/13 Tex 2-4 1 0 L 15-7

5/14 Tex 2-5 0 2 L 7-6

5/15 Tex 1-4 0 0 L 8-1

5/16 Tex 3-6 3 1 W 16-5

5/18 Ana 1-4 0 1 W 5-3

5/19 Ana 1-5 1 0 L 5-4

5/20 Ana 2-4 0 1 L 6-4

5/21 Tex 1-4 0 0 W 3-2

5/22 Tex 1-4 1 1 L 8-7

5/23 Tex 2-3 1 3 W 15-6

Totals 24-62 11 13 5-9

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