Majewski takes turn at 1st

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Sweet-swinging young outfielder played there in college

Gomez is ready if Roberts isn't

Orioles

February 24, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Add a name to the armada of Orioles trying their hands at first base.

Outfield prospect Val Majewski donned the big mitt during workouts yesterday and Wednesday. He joins a group of would-be first basemen that includes Javy Lopez, Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine.

Majewski, 24, has played all three outfield positions in the minors but played first base during his college career at Rutgers.

"He was a very, very good first baseman as an amateur, so it's definitely something we're looking at as a possible way to get him to the big leagues quicker," said David Stockstill, the team's director of minor league operations. "Anytime you can be a multi-position player, that gives you an advantage."

"I'm just going to show what I can do at both spots," Majewski said. "Hopefully, they'll see something they like."

With Walter Young being claimed off waivers by San Diego, the Orioles don't have any highly rated prospects who play first.

Majewski said a few coaches suggested he try first base because the throws would be easier on his surgically repaired left shoulder. He said his arm is fully recovered from the season-ending injury he suffered last March but said he's happy to add a skill to his resume.

Manager Sam Perlozzo said he received good reports on Majewski's play around the bag. "[First base coach] Dave Cash came over and said it looks like the kid has pretty good hands," the manager said.

"I think it's just a new option for him," Perlozzo said. "I think it gives him another opportunity to make the club."

Perlozzo joked that the team has "got about eight first basemen."

Majewski said he's regaining his comfort with the position, which requires closer attention on every pitch.

"It just takes a couple of days to get the feeling back, that faster reaction time," he said. "You're just looking to get that really comfortable feeling."

Majewski was the club's Minor League Player of the Year in 2004, hitting .307 with 15 homers and 80 RBIs at Double-A Bowie.

"As a hitter, he has a real good idea how to make adjustments on his own," Stockstill said. "He doesn't need a lot of regular coaching. ... I think his bat's getting close [to major-league ready]."

Ready to play second

Chris Gomez hopes Brian Roberts will be ready to start the season. But if the starting second baseman's recovery from elbow surgery takes longer, Gomez will be ready to fill in.

That's what the 34-year-old utility man does.

"It's the job description," he said. "You've got to embrace it."

Gomez has played 133 career games at second compared with 1,033 at shortstop. He said the toughest thing about the position is the blind turn to throw and complete a double play.

"But adjustments to other positions are much easier when you've played shortstop," he said. "It's just a more demanding position."

Gomez said he wouldn't be surprised to start the season on the bench. Roberts looks good to him.

"It's not that big a deal," he said. "If he's not ready to start the season, he'll be ready just after that."

Opening Day starter

Perlozzo said he's not close to naming an Opening Day starter. He said he'd like to think the competition is wide-open because he hopes all five projected starters - Kris Benson, Rodrigo Lopez, Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Bruce Chen - could handle the spot. But then he grinned and said the list is probably narrower in his mind.

Visa problems

The three Orioles who haven't reported to camp because of visa problems are now expected to arrive on Sunday. Infielder Eddy Garabito, infielder Napoleon Calzado and pitcher Eddy Rodriguez are all expected to work out for the first time on Monday. All three are from the Dominican Republic.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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