O's, Rochester to play -- 7 innings


Cuba `misunderstanding' spurs exhibition concession

June 25, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The fans who purchased tickets for the Orioles' exhibition in Rochester no longer need to worry about it being canceled. They'll get to see a game on Monday -- all seven innings of it.

That's one of the concessions being made for players objecting to the loss of another scheduled off day in the season's first half.

Many of them were stunned earlier this week when informed that the exhibition hadn't been sacrificed for the May 3 game against a Cuban all-star team at Camden Yards. Instead, the Orioles will play their Triple-A affiliate in a shortened game before flying to Toronto, continuing a series that began 39 years ago and has been interrupted 10 times -- most recently last year, when they faced a selected group of their minor-leaguers in Bowie.

There will be another stoppage next season. With the Orioles no longer contractually obligated to play one of their affiliates, general manager Frank Wren said there won't be an exhibition scheduled.

Player representative Mike Mussina and outfielders B. J. Surhoff and Brady Anderson met with Wren and chief operating officer Joe Foss before Wednesday's game, and later contacted the Major League Baseball Players Association regarding possible recourse. Albert Belle had posted a handwritten petition next to his locker the previous day, which was signed by the right fielder and pitcher Scott Erickson before being taken down.

"I understand the players thought the game was off and this took them by surprise, but the Orioles' front office never had any questions in their mind that they were coming," said Naomi Silver, the Red Wings' operating officer.

Catcher Lenny Webster, who's in Rochester on an injury rehab assignment, said, "Players have been grumbling about this game all season."

In Baltimore, manager Ray Miller and various players chose their words carefully when discussing the issue, not wanting to insult a city and its fans in what's intended to be a goodwill tour.

"There seemed to be some genuine misunderstanding about what was agreed to," Surhoff said. "The players were under the impression the game was going to be scrapped. It had nothing to do with the fact we were going to Rochester. It could have been anywhere."

Asked what he gets in return for playing the game, Surhoff said, "A 1 a.m. arrival in Toronto."

"I don't think this was done maliciously," he added. "It was just a misunderstanding. When we agreed to the Cuba thing, I took it out of my mind. I had no idea when this game was scheduled."

They never forgot in Rochester. Tickets went on sale in March and the game sold out in seven hours.

"I thought it was a no-go, but things happen," said infielder Jeff Reboulet, who sprained his ankle in Rochester two years ago after stepping on a ball during batting practice. "You don't want to disappoint the people. That's the last thing you want to do."

Wren said every player is expected to make the trip, and that no money or perks were promised.

"When I arrived at the ballpark Tuesday afternoon, it was the first time the Rochester game was an issue," Wren said. "And it was purely an issue because the itineraries had been passed out that day and the players saw for the first time that Rochester was on the schedule. Apparently, during the negotiations for the Cuba game back in March, it came up in some of those meetings at high levels that if the second Cuba game was played in-season, would the Rochester game still be played? And our people said, `Yes, we'd still want to play the game, but we wouldn't say the players' association is waiving its rights to bring it up at a later time.' That's where it was miscommunicated."

With Monday's opening filled, the Orioles will have played 30 games in 31 days leading into the All-Star break. Earlier, the Cuban game created a stretch of 26 games in 27 days.

"It's not like it's going to kill us," Surhoff said, "but it would be nice to have a full day-and-a-half off. By playing on a Sunday afternoon and then Tuesday night, it's really like having two full days off. Those are the types of things that help you."

Miller said he hasn't decided on a starting pitcher. He'll dip into the farm system for reserves, as he did last year.

"There's certainly no animosity toward Rochester," Miller said, "but this is like the eighth mandatory thing we've done this year. That's an awful lot, and we still have a golf tournament."

Bordick savors 1,000th

Shortstop Mike Bordick kept the ball from his 1,000th career hit on Wednesday, but he's also keeping the achievement in perspective.

"It's a good feeling, a real good feeling," he said, "but in this clubhouse it's kind of humbling. I'm proud of that accomplishment, but I'm getting more of a thrill watching guys like Harold Baines go out there every night and pass guys like [Joe] DiMaggio, and the things that Cal [Ripken] does."

Baines began last night tied with DiMaggio for 47th place on baseball's all-time home run list with 361. He also had 1,527 RBIs, 34th all-time and 10 behind the Yankee Clipper.

Then there's Jesse Orosco, who took his own souvenir from Wednesday's game after tying Kent Tekulve for most relief appearances at 1,050.

"I'm ecstatic about it," Orosco said. "You're talking about Kent Tekulve, who pitched for many years, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley. To be able to pass names like that "

Pub Date: 6/25/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.