Roberts denies White Sox claim of stealing signs

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Coach says runner helped Palmeiro from 2nd base

Parrish sparkles after rest

Orioles

May 09, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts heard the accusation and didn't know whether to laugh or be offended.

He decided to find the humor in it.

Chicago bullpen coach Art Kusnyer apparently is convinced that Roberts stole signs from the White Sox catcher last week at Camden Yards and relayed them to Orioles batters - a claim that Roberts vehemently denied.

Kusnyer points to the sixth inning of Tuesday's game, when Roberts singled, stole second and eventually scored on a two-out single by Rafael Palmeiro. Kusnyer noticed that Roberts leaned back to the bag when White Sox catcher Miguel Olivo set up inside, and Palmeiro pulled a pitch into right field, as if he knew what was coming.

Waiting for a similar situation the next night, Kusnyer told the Daily Southtown that Roberts made an exaggerated jump away from the bag when Olivo set up outside, again alerting a hitter to the pitch location.

Kusnyer, a former catcher who has been in professional baseball since 1966, also is suspicious of a few Toronto Blue Jays. Roberts can only speak for himself.

"I've never stolen a sign in my life," he said. "I don't know many hitters who want them. I was never confident enough in myself that I'd be on second base to ask them."

Roberts acknowledges that some players are masters at tipping off pitches, but says he's not one of them.

"I wish I was good enough to do it, but I'm not," he said. "If I did do it, I wouldn't be the first one in the game, but I'll go ahead and tell them that I wasn't."

Still amused by Kusnyer's suspicions, Roberts approached Palmeiro in the clubhouse and said, "Apparently, I'm giving you signs at second."

"Really?" said Palmeiro, who later dismissed the accusation as "nonsense."

"I think Raffy's gotten plenty of hits on his own," Roberts said.

The only stealing that Roberts admits to involves bases. He swiped No. 15 yesterday to move past Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford into first place in the American League.

Old-time victory

Celebrating their 50th anniversary in Baltimore, the Orioles wore throwback uniforms from 1954 that included stirrups and three orange circular stripes around the top of the socks.

The jerseys contained black lettering and numbers, and names were omitted from the back.

"It's been a while since I put on these old stirrups," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It took a little time to get dressed this morning."

The Cleveland Indians also wore uniforms from the same year. Images and replays on the video screen were shown in black and white.

Before the game, five members of the Orioles' 1954 team threw out the first pitch: Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Billy Hunter, Gil Coan and Joe Durham.

He loves a parade

Not all of Mazzilli's duties were related to baseball. He also served as grand marshal of the Westside Preakness Parade.

Joined by his wife and children, Mazzilli traveled the parade route in a 1964 Corvair.

"It had like two buttons on the whole dashboard," he said.

Though coaxed by reporters, Mazzilli wouldn't demonstrate his waving technique.

"It was a great experience," he said. "It was kind of neat to see all the people. It made me feel at home. It's an honor to do that."

Worth wait for Parrish

Back on April 28, left-hander John Parrish tossed three hitless innings to earn the win against Seattle. Two nights later, he permitted two runs in 1 1/3 innings in Cleveland.

As the Orioles' bullpen developed into one of baseball's most efficient units, turning in six or more scoreless innings in four games, Parrish seemed to disappear from the landscape. He didn't resurface until yesterday.

Replacing Kurt Ainsworth with two outs in the fifth, Parrish blanked the Indians over 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one hit, walked two and struck out four to get the win.

Asked before the game how he feels after a long layoff, Parrish said, "Strong to quite strong."

He was quite good yesterday, and he needed to be after allowing runs in six of eight appearances.

"They've been doing a great job in the 'pen and you've got to go with what works," he said. "Opportunities are always going to come. It's a waiting game."

Parrish (3-1) is serving as a bullpen mentor to another left-hander, Matt Riley, who recently came out of the rotation.

"We always want the ball," Parrish said, "but I told him to take it easy and just wait for the call."

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