At peace with role, Mora brings smile to Hargrove, too


Playing for Cordova, he contributes 3-run double

waivers surprise Bale

April 02, 2002|By Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko | Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles utility man Melvin Mora met with manager Mike Hargrove in recent days and came away feeling more content with his role. Mora had said he wouldn't be satisfied coming off the bench and starting three to five times a week, as Hargrove had specified.

But Hargrove explained to Mora that he will get plenty of at-bats this season, especially considering he was the first option off the bench if another player got injured.

Mora didn't have to wait until the season for it to happen. The Orioles placed Marty Cordova on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps muscle, and Mora became the club's Opening Day starter in left field.

Without missing a beat, Mora had two walks, two stolen bases and a three-run double against Yankees starter Roger Clemens in yesterday's 10-3 win.

"I feel good because of the way he talked to me," Mora said. "It doesn't matter how he plays me, I just wanted to know what my role's going to be."

Stunned Bale awaits move

Left-hander John Bale expected to be in uniform yesterday, sitting in the Orioles' bullpen with the other relievers and soaking up his first Opening Day. A discussion with Hargrove about two weeks ago confirmed his inclusion on the 25-man roster until circumstances abruptly changed.

Boy, did they change.

Bale was designated for assignment following Saturday's final exhibition game in Louisville, Ky., one day after making a brief appearance against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The club has seven days to trade him before placing him on waivers. If Bale goes unclaimed, he'll most likely report to Triple-A Rochester.

The official explanation given for Bale's ouster involved the need to keep three catchers on the roster, which tied into an 11-man pitching staff that won't expand until fifth starter Calvin Maduro comes off the disabled list later this week.

"I don't feel like I did anything to pitch myself off the team," said Bale, who allowed three earned runs and eight hits in six spring innings. "Hopefully it'll work out for the best for me. It was a total surprise to me."

"We decided to go with three catchers," Hargrove said, "and when we looked at which direction we wanted to go, John was the least ready to pitch of the people who were available."

Bale cost the Orioles one of their top prospects when they traded catcher Jayson Werth, a former No. 1 draft pick, to Toronto for him at the 2000 winter meetings.

Bale has struggled to remain healthy, again being shelved this spring because of elbow stiffness. A magnetic resonance imaging test and arthrogram didn't reveal an injury, perplexing club officials.

"I need to prove to them that I can stay healthy," he said.

Good news on Richard

The optimism that Chris Richard brought to spring training must have been contagious.

Richard seemed certain that he could return from shoulder surgery before the All-Star break and the Orioles must have agreed. They placed him on the 15-day disabled list over the weekend rather than the 60-day.

"We're taking a gamble on the short side of it," Hargrove said.

30 stitches for Crowley

Hitting coach Terry Crowley arrived at Camden Yards wearing dark sunglasses to hide a bandage on his forehead and a purple ring around his right eye.

Because Crowley couldn't run on the field from the bullpen during pre-game introductions, the coaching staff made its entrance from the dugout.

These were the concessions made after Crowley was struck by a batted ball while soft-tossing in the indoor batting cage during Sunday's workout. The ball went through a protective screen and hit him at full speed, opening a gash between his eyes that he said required about 30 stitches.

"The muscle split. It was down to the bone," he said.

No interest in Trombley

The Los Angeles Dodgers designated former Orioles reliever Mike Trombley for assignment, but baseball sources say the Orioles have no interest in bringing him back. They traded Trombley to the Dodgers in July for reliever Kris Foster and Geronimo Gil, who is now their starting catcher.

Trombley went 0-4 with a 6.56 ERA last season with the Dodgers.

April Fool

After the game, the Orioles' public relations department issued an April Fool's press release responding to a Washington Post column that said they were purposely fielding a noncompetitive team to help their case against Major League Baseball moving a team to Washington.

The release said: "After winning their season-opener against the defending American League champion New York Yankees today, the Baltimore Orioles announced that they have decided not to `tank' the 2002 season."

Around the horn

The Orioles remain hopeful that Maduro, on the DL with a strained forearm muscle, will be ready to start on Sunday. "He threw down the other day and reported that the pain was subsiding," Hargrove said. ... Jerry Hairston became the first Oriole to start consecutive Opening Days at second base since Bill Ripken in 1990-1992. ... Rookie outfielder Luis Garcia was given Brady Anderson's No. 9.

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