Hairston happy to pay a visit

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Ranger is back at Camden Yards for first time since leaving Orioles

July 14, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER AND KATIE CARRERA | CHILDS WALKER AND KATIE CARRERA,SUN REPORTERS

Former Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston returned to Camden Yards for the first time yesterday as a member of the Texas Rangers.

"I've never actually been over, even just to look around," he said of the visiting clubhouse. "It's a little strange, but that's how it is. It's good to be back, see the stadium and a couple of guys. I was treated very well here. I have very good memories here."

The affable Hairston played in parts of seven seasons with the Orioles and was the team's full-time starter in 2001. But he gradually lost playing time to Brian Roberts, and the Orioles traded Hairston to the Chicago Cubs after the 2004 season.

He was initially thrilled to go to Chicago, where he grew up, but couldn't find a regular role with the Cubs. So he was happy to be traded again earlier this season.

"I asked to be dealt," said Hairston, who went 0-for-1 last night. "It was just a situation where I definitely needed a change. It's good for me here. I didn't demand. I just figured that it wasn't a good situation."

Hairston has played second base, first base and all three outfield positions this season. He compared his experience to that of former teammate Melvin Mora, who played all over the diamond before settling at third base. Hairston was batting .222 in 57 games this season entering last night's game.

"Average. I don't really look at that," Hairston said. "It's deceiving. I did a lot of pinch hitting in the early part of the year, which was kind of tough. It's just the feel. ... I've kind of altered my swing a little bit, which is what I needed to do."

He has enjoyed watching his former rival for playing time, Roberts, emerge as a star in Baltimore.

"It's good to see him get an opportunity to play every day," Hairston said. "That's a big part of it."

Gomez returns

Infielder Chris Gomez returned to the Orioles' active roster last night for the first time since suffering a broken bone in his left hand in mid-May.

Gomez was placed on the 60-day disabled list after being hit by a pitch that broke the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand May 10 against the Detroit Tigers.

"The hand is a total non-issue," Gomez said. "I forget about it. It's strong, doesn't hurt at all. I think the rehab was more for just getting at-bats and getting in playing shape, which wasn't too tough."

In a four-game rehab stint with Double-A Bowie, Gomez hit .250 with four runs and an RBI.

Manager Sam Perlozzo said he'll use Gomez as a right-handed alternative to utility man Brandon Fahey and as an occasional starter and late-inning defensive replacement at first base.

More picks sign

The Orioles have signed 12 of their first 13 picks from this year's draft. Louisiana high school shortstop Ryan Adams and two Cal State Fullerton players, shortstop Blake Davis and outfielder Brandon Tripp, were the most recent to agree to deals. Adams, the club's second-round pick, and Tripp, its 12th-round pick, will report to Rookie-level Bluefield this week. Davis, the team's fourth-round pick, has started playing for Single-A Delmarva.

Emeel Salem, an outfielder from the University of Alabama and the club's 10th-round pick, has not signed.

Talks stall with Rockies

Negotiations between the Orioles and Colorado Rockies over a deal involving reliever LaTroy Hawkins have slowed, according to industry sources.

The Orioles have asked for power-hitting first base prospect Ryan Shealy, but the Rockies would prefer to trade outfielder-third baseman Jeff Baker. The Orioles have only minimal interest in Baker.

No bobbleheads

Because of a manufacturing error, the Orioles will not hand out Roberts bobblehead dolls as planned tomorrow. They will instead hand out vouchers to all fans who attend the game against the Rangers. Fans will be able to use the vouchers to pick up Roberts dolls after Sept. 1 at Camden Yards.

childs.walker@baltsun.com katie.carrera@baltsun.com

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