Competitor Fordyce starts anew

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Catcher out to prove worth

Maduro likely tomorrow

April 06, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles catcher Brook Fordyce made his first start last night, finally breaking into the lineup after posting the highest average among players who made the 25-man roster out of spring training.

Fordyce has been designated as the backup to Geronimo Gil, who started all three games of the New York Yankees series. He went 0-for-1 with a walk last night after striking out as a pinch hitter Thursday night.

"I was assuming that I'd play, but you can't really assume anything in this game," he said.

Fordyce broke camp as the starter last year but lost time to Fernando Lunar and Gil while batting .209 with 19 RBIs. He hit .381 with three homers and nine RBIs this spring, but lost out to Gil, who possesses the stronger arm and developing offensive skills.

"The tough part right now, and this is tough for anybody, is wanting to compete," said Fordyce, 31. "Everybody wants to compete, whether it's Double-A, Triple-A. You want to see if you're better than the pitcher, better than the other team. That's been the hard part. You want to win something. But this is about the team, and it's always been about the team with me."

Holding firm to that philosophy, he didn't bother debating manager Mike Hargrove over the decision to start Gil. Fordyce learned of his demotion while the Orioles were in Atlanta for a March 29 exhibition game.

"He's the manager and I respect Mike Hargrove," Fordyce said. " ... I utterly respect him. Do I have to be happy about it? No. But what if I'm in his position someday as a manager? I'm going to have to do what's best for the team.

"If I did better last year, we wouldn't be in this position."

Hargrove is uncomfortable placing a backup label on Fordyce. "We really don't look at him that way," he said. "He'll be catching less than Geronimo, but I still see Brook catching two to three times a week. ... Brook has a lot to offer."

Martinez vs. Maduro?

The Orioles continue to list tomorrow's starter as "undecided," but it appears that Hargrove has made up his mind.

Barring an unexpected setback, Calvin Maduro will take the ball to close a three-game series against Boston. That means also taking on the challenge of facing three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez, who threw New England into a panic after allowing seven earned runs in three innings in the Red Sox's opener. "It's a good challenge, but I'm playing against Boston. I'm not playing against Pedro," Maduro said.

Maduro (strained forearm) is eligible to come off the disabled list today. The Orioles could wait until tomorrow to activate him, which would necessitate a corresponding roster move. The acquisition of outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. earlier this week could send outfielder Luis Garcia to Triple-A Rochester. The Orioles remain tied to three catchers, with Lunar out of minor-league options and available in a trade.

Asked about Maduro yesterday, Hargrove said he was hopeful of starting him tomorrow. "There's no reason for him not to come off," Hargrove said.

Maduro is attempting to recapture the momentum he built in spring training, when he limited opponents to one run over 12 innings to win the fifth starter's job.

"If I get the start, I'm just excited to go out there and finally pitch in a major league game again," he said.

Steady line

Hargrove had a chance to accomplish something last night that took 68 games to achieve last season. He chose to pass.

If Gil had caught instead of Fordyce, Hargrove would have used the same lineup for a third time. Fordyce's insertion was the only change from the lineups written out on Monday and Thursday.

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