Bigbie's best chance for luck is fans' charm

April 08, 2005|By LAURA VECSEY

THE SEASON is young, but not for Larry Bigbie. The Orioles left fielder has a problem. He's not embarrassed to admit it.

In fact, Bigbie was eager to seek outside counsel for help with this problem.

"I need a good luck charm," Bigbie said.

"I always have some kind of good luck charm, but I need a new one. I want to have a good season. I thought maybe you could help me think of something."

Imagine my surprise, honor and delight when Bigbie singled me out to help him yesterday and not Page 2 columnist Peter Schmuck.

Left in the hands of someone like that, Bigbie, from Indiana, would probably wind up with a glossy photo of Miss Idaho, who, while in town for the Miss USA contest, intercepted a Kyle Boller pass.

Bigbie was smart not to ask his teammates for help. Sammy Sosa was still trying to find a place in Baltimore to live this season. Sidney Ponson isn't giving out free advice to anyone, unless it's the number for 1-800-LAWYER.

"Good luck? I believe you jump onto the field every day and do it. That's what I believe," Melvin Mora said, shaving down the handle of a new bat.

In other words: Good luck to the person who needs a good luck charm.

Bigbie was desperate, which is where I came in.

"I don't care what it is, but I need something. I need some suggestions. You got any?" Bigbie said.

From the look on Bigbie's earnest face, it was clear this was a serious matter. Sure, he was smiling, but with the season already three games old and the Orioles already packing for New York, where they start a three-game series tonight against the dreaded Yankees, there was apparently no more time to waste.

"I'm very superstitious. I've had things like little figurines. Someone sent me a Swedish coin one year ... " Bigbie said, shaking his head.

Nothing like a Swedish coin to propel a major leaguer to a Triple Crown.

Bigbie didn't say what had caused this sudden urge to locate this season's talisman. It might have had something to do with the fact that he wasn't in the starting lineup last night. Too much time on his hands ... to worry.

Bigbie is eager to establish himself as a star. He is the starting left fielder, having earned the job last year when he hit .280 with a career-high 15 homers and 68 RBIs.

But manager Lee Mazzilli has the luxury of better depth this season, so he started B.J. Surhoff in left in place of Bigbie last night and David Newhan in center in place of Luis Matos.

Matos cracked a two-run homer on Opening Day, as if to announce his return to health and well-being. Meanwhile, Bigbie went 0-for-3 in Wednesday's 9-0 loss to the A's, prompting Mazzilli to switch to a left-handed lineup last night.

This is not a platoon situation in left ... unless, for some reason, Bigbie doesn't hit well.

No wonder the guy believes he needs a good luck charm.

"Here's last year's," Bigbie said.

He reached into his locker and pulled out a brown piggy bank. Upon close inspection, it's clear that the bank is decorated like a football. Bigbie shakes it and a few coins rattle inside the ceramic pig.

"It's from my high school coach. I called him and asked him to send me something. This is what he sent. I put a coin in it after every game I didn't get a hit," Bigbie said.

I asked him how much money was in the piggy bank.

"Not too much. I didn't follow up. I kind of lost track," he said.

This could be the reason why Bigbie needs a new good luck charm, no offense to football coach Don Rogers back in Indiana.

Asked what he considers a good season, Bigbie demonstrates the humble demeanor that makes him such a nice, reasonable guy. He says he's looking for .280-plus, 20 homers and 70-plus RBIs. Another year like last year, with a few more homers.

Aim a little higher, I want to encourage Bigbie, but it's his career.

Still, it's now a joint effort to locate the good luck charm for the season. I tell him I'll think about it. Better yet, I'll solicit suggestions from Orioles fans.

"Good. It just has to fit nice on the shelf in my locker and it has to fit in my travel case," he said.

Please, help Larry and me solve this problem.

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