Time of next Belle interview unclear

Conference surprises club

such sessions to be rare

July 27, 1999|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

When Albert Belle used the second three-homer game of his career as a stage to vent his frustrations Sunday afternoon, the Orioles right fielder gave no indication of when he would speak next, only that such sessions would remain uncommon.

Belle, who had rebuffed media requests as recently as Thursday in Boston, asked Orioles director of public relations John Maroon to arrange a news conference in the aftermath of the team's dramatic 8-7, 11-inning win over the Anaheim Angels.

"It was his idea," Maroon said. "I thought he was kidding at first."

Silent to local media since early March, Belle accompanied Maroon to a third-floor lounge behind the Camden Yards press box, where he spoke little about his breakout performance but sharply denied media reports that he had renounced a no-trade provision in his five-year, $65 million contract.

The Orioles hastily converted a room that had earlier been readied for a news conference in case third baseman Cal Ripken hit his 400th career home run.

Team officials have encouraged reporters to honor Belle's request to be left alone. The slugger's common response has been to walk past would-be interviewers or to offer curt suggestions to leave his locker. During Sunday's news conference, Belle was asked if he really wanted reporters to "show me some love" as a clubhouse sign posted beside his locker requested, why not reciprocate by becoming more accessible?

"This is one of those times now," Belle said. "I'm not going to be accessible a lot. When the situation calls for it, I'll talk."

Among other things, Belle said he was "shocked" that Orioles fans would cheer his three-home run performance after pelting him with boos for most of this season.

Several people connected to the club, including broadcasters Jim Palmer and Michael Reghi, encouraged Belle and his brother, Terry, to become more accessible or at least present their side of issues that have frustrated the player.

"I'm not worried about what the media says," Belle said Sunday. "You can't control me going out on the field between the white lines. As long as you can't control that, I don't have anything to worry about."

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