Catcher Myers back in step one day after suffering bruised toe

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

First injury of spring turns out to be minor

February 25, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Catcher Greg Myers returned to the field yesterday after spending the latter portion of Wednesday's workout in the trainer's room with a bruised toe on his right foot.

Myers was able to participate in most drills, though he abstained from some of the running. The first incident of spring appears to have been a minor one.

The mishap occurred while Myers was catching. A foul tip caught him flush on the toe and cost him the nail. It won't, however, cost him significant time.

"I'm not able to do everything, but most things," he said. "If it feels all right, then I'll do it."

Said manager Mike Hargrove: "He took his turn catching and took his turn in the cage. We held him out of the individual fundamentals the first period of the day, but he came around. He did all right."

Signed as a free agent in December, Myers has spent portions of his days here getting acquainted with another pitching staff. He knows the drill by now, having played for six different teams since breaking into the majors in 1989.

"I've only caught [relievers] Mike Trombley and Mike Timlin. That's about it," he said, referring to his former teammates in Minnesota and Toronto, respectively.

Myers, who ended last season in his second tour with the Atlanta Braves, also can be found most mornings chatting with starting catcher Charles Johnson at their adjoining lockers.

"I'm learning a lot from him," Myers said.

Avoiding foul tips would be a wise subject to cover.

Projections for Johnson

Johnson caught 135 games last season, a number he's not likely to reach this year with Myers in the fold. But it may be pretty close.

"I look at C. J. catching anywhere from 120 to 125 games, maybe a little more, maybe a little less," Hargrove said. "It depends on how he's doing at the time, how things are going."

Belle impresses Hargrove

Hargrove said he was "surprised" how well Albert Belle played in right field last season after serving as his left fielder in Cleveland.

"In the games I saw him play against the Indians, I was impressed by the way he played in the outfield," Hargrove said.

"It's been my experience in Cleveland that Albert works very hard on his defense. He cared about it. And I've watched him here in camp and he's showing me the same work ethic that I saw before. He's improved greatly in the outfield because of his work ethic."

Kirby happy to be here

Wayne Kirby is with his seventh organization, including two stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and coming off a season spent entirely in the minors. He's trying to land a job as a spare outfielder with the Orioles, but most likely will be suiting up for Triple-A Rochester in April.

But just try to wipe the smile off his face.

Kirby is one of the more animated players in the Fort Lauderdale Stadium clubhouse, trading barbs and stories with his new teammates and looking as though there's no place he'd rather be.

Asked about his goals this spring, Kirby said, "Just to have fun. That's me. I love the game and I think this team can win. They've got all the tools. I thought I'd be a good fit over here.

"I'm a relaxed guy. I get along with everybody. I don't care if you make $10 million or $100,000. You're all teammates to me and no one's above that."

Kirby, who turned 36 last month, began his professional career with the Dodgers in 1983. His major-league debut came with the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 12, 1991, when he entered a game in Baltimore as a defensive replacement. He rejoined the Dodgers in 1996, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent in 1998 and was traded to the New York Mets.

That would be his last taste of the majors. Kirby signed a minor-league contract with Toronto last January but was released on April 1. He then signed a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, his hometown, and batted .320 with eight homers and 23 RBIs against right-handed pitching.

To stick with the Orioles, who signed him to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite, he'll need to beat out Rich Amaral, Eugene Kingsale, Derrick May and Billy Ashley, among others.

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