Wherever he plays, Short stays Bowie hit

`Versatile' outfielder eclipsing .300 yet again


July 19, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

From baseball's days of yore, we now introduce Rick Short.

"He is a guy cut out of the old mold, a throwback, a down and dirty player," said Bowie Baysox manager Joe Ferguson. "He plays hard all the time."

And wherever he goes, Short hits. His name is beside virtually all the major Frederick Keys batting records; he won a Carolina League batting title in 1997, and he has a career .309 average since signing with the Orioles as a 33rd-round draft selection five years ago.

The problem: Where do you play him? Short on power and speed, he has played everywhere in the infield and was converted to the outfield this season. His best position is probably second base, but with guys named Jesse Garcia and Jerry Hairston in the farm system, there is little future beckoning at that spot.

"Moving around could hurt a player," Short said. "But I kind of took it as if I had to learn them all, anything to be in the lineup. I guess it means you're really versatile or really bad. I like to think of it as being really versatile."

Now 26, Short is again eclipsing .300 at Bowie and said, "I haven't put my infield glove away yet. But I'm more comfortable in the outfield now after starting as an emergency fill-in."

Ferguson said all the shifting may have hampered Short, who is versatile off the field as well. The Illinois native has worked with handicapped children in the off-season. He also works in the sports department of the Peoria Journal and has a criminal justice degree from Western Illinois University.

"He hasn't gotten the opportunity to play a position for a long period," Ferguson said. "So, he doesn't have a chance to improve. But he has made the best of his opportunities at a lot of places. No doubt his best tool is his hitting ability."

Pardon the puns, but he has a short swing and a short bat. The contact ratio is therefore high, the power quotient low.

"The one thing you can always control is hustle," Short said. "That's what I do: Go hard. Something good can always happen."

Triple-A Rochester

Calvin Pickering, a notorious hot-weather hitter, has found the groove. He entered July batting .251, and has risen to .292 with an 18-for-38 spurt. Over an eight-game span, Pickering cracked seven home runs and drove in 15 runs. Eugene Kingsale has been a catalyst for the Red Wings since being promoted from Bowie, helping the team to 10 wins in 13 games. Kingsale hit .356 during his first two weeks and six of his 20 hits were bunts. Doug Linton is the hottest Red Wings pitcher. Over a three-start period, he allowed four earned runs, struck out 25 and walked three. He also had a dubious distinction of hitting three straight batters with pitches in an 11-strikeout victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rafael Pina, who struggled as the closer, moved into the rotation for Darin Blood (0-3, 8.29 ERA in nine starts). Javier De La Hoya has permitted 21 home runs at Bowie and Rochester. The team added left-hander Erik Plantenberg, who was released by Tampa Bay. He was 5-4 at Triple-A Durham and gave up six home runs in one outing. Through Thursday, Rochester was 21-24 on the road but 14-33 at home.

Double-A Bowie

The Baysox will not lose Matt Riley for an extended period after all. The prized prospect threw one pitch in the Futures Game on July 11, retiring his hitter. He then returned to the Baysox after opting not to play in the Double-A All-Star Game or for the Pan Am Games team. Riley lost his most recent start, 1-0, to Harrisburg. He will pitch tomorrow night. Ryan Kohlmeier retired all three batters he faced in the Double-A classic in Mobile, Ala. His American League squad fell, 3-0. With Carlos Medina and Cesar Devarez playing for the Dominican Republic in the Pan Am Games, the Baysox received Tim DeCinces and Pete Hartmann from Rochester. Chad Paronto replaced Medina in the rotation.

Bowie had one extra-base hit, Richard Paz's double, over 35 2/3 innings. Josh Towers walked two batters over 37 1/3 innings, with one being intentional. Riley, Mike Bell and De La Hoya combined for an 18-4 record as Baysox starters. Thirteen of the wins followed a team loss. The Baysox have not lost three in a row this season and have not been swept in a series. They have scored 22 more unearned runs than the opposition.

Single-A Frederick

A 12-game hitting streak by Ivanon Coffie ended when the Keys were no-hit by three Kinston pitchers last week. Coffie raised his average from .159 to .322 during the surge. Eddy Martinez had an 11-game streak stopped the same day. He is second in the Carolina League batting race. Roberto Rivera clubbed two homers against Kinston and climbed within two of team leader Franky Figueroa. Brandon Huntsman has moved into the pitching rotation with Alvie Shepherd going to the bullpen.

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