Well-traveled Rivera lands with Baysox

Rodgers hopes outfielder, in his 6th organization, can turn around career

Notebook

Minor League Baseball

August 18, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

A player once described as "the next Mickey Mantle" by the New York Yankees is batting .200 at Double-A Bowie.

A player once rated as a five-tool, can't-miss prospect has 24 hits in 120 at-bats, six home runs and no stolen bases.

But the Orioles aren't complaining. At least they never referred to Ruben Rivera as the next Eddie Murray.

The Orioles signed Rivera, 29, after the San Francisco Giants released him on June 3, figuring it was a "low risk, high reward" move. That's how Doc Rodgers described it, and the director of minor league operations still has no regrets while projecting Rivera as a "fourth or fifth outfielder" at the major league level, compared to a regular in the minors.

"He's been a good addition to our club with his play and his attitude and approach to the game," Rodgers said. "He's been a good fit."

Rivera has spent parts of nine seasons in the majors, batting .216 with 64 home runs and 203 RBIs. He appeared in 31 games with the Giants this year, batting .180 with two homers and four RBIs and gaining unwanted attention for a base-running snafu that was replayed many times on SportsCenter.

Asked about the reports he's receiving, Rodgers said, "It's the same Ruben, a Gold Glove center fielder with some holes in his offensive game. And those holes are things that, as long as he plays, he'll continue to work on."

The Orioles are the sixth organization for Rivera, who was 5-for-40 this month going into the weekend. The Yankees traded him to the San Diego Padres on May 30, 1997 for the rights to Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu, beginning a U.S. tour that would exhaust Bruce Springsteen.

The Yankees re-signed Rivera last year, but released him on May 12 after finding out that he swiped items from Derek Jeter's locker with the intention of selling them. The Texas Rangers signed him three weeks later.

"We've all made mistakes in our lives and we've all made mistakes in this game," Bowie manager Dave Trembley said. "I know that he wants to play because he's had to come in here and start all over again. He didn't expect to be treated any different than anybody else. He hasn't big-leagued it. Ruben has been very professional here, very humble.

"You respect a guy who's come from his background. You understand some of the trials and tribulations he's gone through, and you treat him with respect and treat him as a man. And he's done that in return for us."

Rodgers had a history with Rivera from their days together in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and he also chooses not to judge the outfielder on the Jeter incident.

"We all make mistakes," he said. "It was a very poor decision, and none of us are perfect. I'm sure he regrets it more than anybody. He lost more money than most of us make in a lifetime, and there's also his reputation. You can't put a price tag on that."

The Orioles hoped to move Rivera to Triple-A Ottawa once he got into playing shape after the layoff, but it appears he'll stay in Bowie.

"You've got to pull for guys like him who still have a love for the game, have a compassion for it, want to get back to where they once were and are willing to make the sacrifices," Trembley said.

"There are two things you cannot teach anybody. You can't teach them to love it and you can't teach them to care."

Triple-A Ottawa

Sean Douglass (9-8) finally got above .500, defeating Syracuse on Wednesday, 14-5. Douglass allowed an unearned run and two hits over six innings. He's permitted two runs or fewer in eight straight starts. ... Tim Raines scored five runs during Wednesday's game and had a two-run triple as part of Ottawa's 17-hit attack in Saturday's 7-2 win over Syracuse. Luis Lopez went 4-for-4. ... Before yesterday, catcher Geromino Gil was batting .352 in 23 games since the Orioles demoted him. ... Chris Lemonis hit his first homer with the Lynx on Wednesday while going 3-for-3 with five RBIs. ... Aaron Rakers got his first Triple-A save Tuesday in a 2-1, 12-inning win over Syracuse. ... Going into the weekend, Darwin Cubillan hadn't allowed an earned run in nine of his past 10 appearances, collecting five saves, striking out 16 and posting a 0.87 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. ...

Double-A Bowie

Left-handed reliever Todd Rizzo, who didn't allow a run in eight spring training innings, moved down to Bowie when the Orioles purchased John Parrish's contract. Rizzo, who was 2-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 47 games at Ottawa, tossed a perfect ninth inning in his Baysox debut Friday. ... The Baysox swept Saturday's doubleheader vs. Harrisburg with Mike Fontenot's 11th-inning single winning the nightcap. Keith Reed and Ed Rogers homered. ... Former No. 1 draft pick Mike Paradis fell to 5-9 Thursday after allowing four runs (three earned) in six innings against Altoona.

Single-A Frederick

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