Red Wings' Garcia suspended

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Angry at losing hit, he has to be separated from Rochester scorer

June 17, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Jesus Garcia, who opened the season as the Orioles' utility infielder, has been suspended by the organization for three games after an altercation with Rochester's official scorer.

Len Lustik, 60, who's been with the Red Wings for 28 years, charged an Ottawa infielder with an error on a ball hit by Garcia during Thursday's game.

Garcia, who had been benched for two games earlier in the week because of a prolonged slump, apparently phoned Lustik from the Red Wings' clubhouse and later confronted him in the press box after the game.

Garcia, a former amateur boxing champion, pointed a finger in Lustik's face, and the two men had to be separated by press box attendants.

Lustik went into Rochester's clubhouse after the incident, accompanied by a uniformed police officer and the stadium's head of security, to speak with Rochester manager Marv Foley.

"It's always improper for any player in this organization to leave the locker room and go into the press box to challenge someone. It's a violation of our rules," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations.

"People do a lot of things when they're frustrated that they wouldn't normally do, and I know he feels bad about it."

Just passing through

Rather than make a roster move before last night's game, the Orioles elected to send reliever Calvin Maduro on one last injury rehab assignment and retain Jose Mercedes for their three-game series against the Anaheim Angels.

Maduro arrived at Camden Yards yesterday, but he was just passing through. He'll report to Single-A Frederick tomorrow and pitch two innings against Lynchburg before being activated from the disabled list early next week.

Maduro, who has been sidelined with a strained ligament in his right elbow, made four appearances with Triple-A Rochester. Each time, he was restricted to one inning.

"We've been cautious with Calvin up to now, and while we didn't feel that bringing him back would be too soon, we decided to send him back out on one more rehab just to be on the safe side," said manager Mike Hargrove.

Hargrove said the decision to keep Maduro on the disabled list was made early yesterday morning after the Orioles' rain-delayed, 10-1 victory over the Texas Rangers that completed a three-game sweep. Hargrove used five relievers after the third inning in what evolved into a tag-team competition, and a few, including left-hander Chuck McElroy, weren't available last night.

Mercedes, whom the club wanted to send down, wasn't used on Thursday and provided Hargrove with a fresh arm. Maduro pitched a scoreless inning for the Red Wings on Thursday and was given the next day off.

Maduro said he's physically sound, but he still needs some psychological fine-tuning.

"Arm-wise and body-wise, I'm there," he said. "But mentally, I need to get over [any concerns] that my arm is good and just go out there and throw the ball. That's why I'm going to Frederick. Then I'll come back Monday or Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Gabe Molina remains hopeful that he'll miss the latest minor-league shuttle and stick with the Orioles. This is his third stint with the club this season, and his sixth in two years. Normally, a pending roster move signals another trip to Rochester, but he might have avoided that fate this time.

Molina made his second appearance with the Orioles on Thursday, loading the bases with one out in the sixth inning before getting a popup and fly ball to maintain a 2-1 lead. Hargrove had indicated a desire to get Molina in a game, though preferably with more margin for error.

"I really thought this time that I had a shot to stick around longer if I got the opportunity to pitch, and I pitched decently," Molina said. "I just didn't feel that they would call me up again for another five days or so and then send me down. That was just my reasoning. I didn't think they'd do it again. In the back of my mind, I was thinking this is my time to stay, my time to do well and stay here the rest of the year."

Molina said he wasn't fazed by coming into a one-run game on Thursday and facing the heart of the Rangers' lineup, including last year's American League MVP, Ivan Rodriguez, and former Orioles Rafael Palmeiro and David Segui.

"It was a good time for me to come in, even though it was a tight ballgame," he said. "I hadn't pitched in a while, so I was a little rusty, but I kind of thrive on pressure situations. I've always done well with guys on base in scoring position. Being a closer in the minor leagues, I'm in those situations all the time where the game is on the line. You kind of adapt to it."

Late night with O's

Having been subjected to a rain delay after the third inning that lasted 2 hours 7 minutes, the Orioles were permitted to skip batting practice yesterday. They didn't have to be in uniform until 6 p.m.

Hargrove said he didn't get to bed until around 4:30 a.m.

"I was up at 11, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," he said.

Approaching the break

Asked where he wanted to be by the All-Star break, Hargrove presented the obvious answer: "In Baltimore." Then he reluctantly dragged out a few cliches that indicated cautious optimism.

"We're really taking it a day at a time," he said. "The club feels good about itself right now, as it should. We'll go out and try to win tonight's game with an eye toward tomorrow. We certainly don't want to put the cart before the horse."

The Orioles began last night in fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees. Not exactly prime position, but better than their season-high, 9 1/2 -game deficit. And better than where some of Hargrove's former teams had been this time of year.

"I've played on clubs that were 30 games out by now," he said. "If you want to feel bad, try 30 out. Been there, done that."

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