Looking ahead

April 02, 2000|By Roch Kubatko

Orioles Dates to circle

April 11-13: It's during this three-game stop in Kansas City, after playing six at home against Cleveland and Detroit, that Cal Ripken is projected to get his 3000th career hit. Nine short of the milestone, he was batting only .157 (8-for-51) in 18 exhibition games. A torrid start might have given more hope to No. 3,000 coming at Camden Yards. Now, it's anybody's guess. But this trip could be where he makes history.

April 17: The Orioles begin a three-game home series against Tampa Bay, the one club most publications are predicting will finish below Charm City's crew. Last season, the Orioles were 5-7 against the lowly Devil Rays. Worse, they were 15-34 against the AL East. This would be a good place to begin reversing those nasty trends.

May 5-7: Start spreading the news. The Orioles make their first visit to the Bronx to get an up-close look at the two-time defending world champion New York Yankees. These games will be their first on the road against a division opponent. And as Orioles fans have learned, something always seems to happen when their team plays at Yankee Stadium. The bizarre has become the norm.

Aug. 7: This date will provide the Orioles with their first glimpse of the new ballpark in Detroit. No more Tiger Stadium, with its vast history and cramped visiting clubhouse that made changing clothes in a phone booth an appealing alternative. Perhaps only Mike Mussina will shed a tear. He was 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 10 career starts.

Sept. 1: The Orioles must wait this long to make their only stop in Cleveland. They were 0-6 at Jacobs Field last season, which pretty much has been the norm since the place opened. But at least one person should be juiced for a return: Manager Mike Hargrove, fired by the Indians after last season despite five straight AL Central titles and two trips to the World Series. He'll probably play it down, but don't believe for a second that Hargrove didn't immediately scan the 2000 schedule for this one.

Orioles Milestone watch

Cal Ripken is nine hits short of 3,000 for his career.

Harold Baines needs 217 hits to reach 3,000. Caution: He's never had more than 198 in a season, and that was back in 1985. Baines also is 27 homers shy of 400.

Albert Belle needs 42 home runs to reach 400.

Mike Mussina is three victories away from passing Scott McGregor (138) for fifth place on the Orioles' career list. He needs only eight to overtake Mike Cuellar for third.

Brady Anderson needs 21 steals to reach 300 as an Oriole.

On a more dubious note: When Ripken hits into his fourth double play this season, he'll tie Hank Aaron's record of 328. Don't expect confetti to fly above Eutaw St. for this one, or the numbers 6-4-3 to hang from the warehouse.

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