Clark hits pitch after cab misses Yard exit ramp

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Welcoming ovation grows as he doubles in 1st at-bat

Ripken locker is extra thrill

Notebook

July 17, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Howie Clark figured the toughest part about getting to Camden Yards would be receiving a phone call from the Orioles. He didn't calculate the degree of difficulty in a cab ride from Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Clark, who made his major-league debut yesterday, didn't arrive at the ballpark Monday until the third inning - after the cab he was sharing with a stranger headed toward Fells Point. Clark motioned for Camden Yards as the vehicle passed, but watched it disappear in the side mirror.

"I said, `Where are you going? You were supposed to drop me off.' I guess he didn't understand," Clark said.

"If I had any hair, I would have been pulling it out."

For Clark, 28, those first steps inside the clubhouse were worth the wait - even the ones leading directly to Cal Ripken's old locker. No other player had dressed there until the Orioles purchased Clark's contract from Triple-A Rochester and designated Ryan McGuire for assignment.

"I didn't even know. I'd take a seat on the floor," he said. "I've never been in here, even though I played at Bowie for a couple years. A lot of guys would take the tour, but I never did."

Leading off as the designated hitter yesterday against the Seattle Mariners' Joel Pineiro, Clark received a nice ovation as he stepped to the plate, and it grew when he doubled off the center-field fence. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a bouncer to short, receiving congratulatory pats and fist-taps in the dugout that had a little more zip than the ones for other players.

"That was an unbelievable experience after waiting so many years," said Clark, who went 1-for-4 and kept the lineup card.

Clark appeared in 942 minor-league games in 10 seasons with the Orioles' organization, and spent last season in Mexico, before finally reaching the majors. He was leading the Triple-A International League in hits with 117 and ranked sixth with a .330 average, but didn't get chosen for the Triple-A All-Star Game. It's not the first time he has been passed over.

"I've been around a lot of good people in this game and they always told me not to worry about things that aren't in my control," he said. "People have said before, keep playing and do your job and do the best you can, and if you're good enough to play in the big leagues, you will."

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove didn't waste much time getting Clark into the lineup. "You don't want him to just hang around," he said.

Parrish done for season

Rather than throw a few innings later this summer for one of the Orioles' short-season affiliates, left-hander John Parrish won't pitch for the rest of the season while recovering from surgery on his right knee.

The decision was made after Parrish met with doctors. He was advised to gear toward a return in spring training.

"It just wouldn't be a good idea to come back," said Parrish, who went 1-2 in 16 games with the Orioles last season. "I have to think of it as a long-term thing. I was pretty down after talking about it with doctors, but I came to realize that now I can work out the whole off-season to get ready."

R. Minor with Newark

Former Orioles third baseman Ryan Minor, once regarded as the likely successor to Ripken, has signed with Newark of the independent Atlantic League.

Minor has been released twice since the Orioles traded him to the Montreal Expos for closer Jorge Julio in December 2000. The Mariners released him from Triple-A Tacoma this summer. It's a steep decline for a player who ranked among the organization's top prospects as recently as 1999.

Sign of times

Orioles pitcher Rick Bauer will appear at the Babe Ruth Museum on Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m. to sign autographs. For more information, call 410-727-1539.

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