DeCinces, Hoiles recall 2 O's eras

Orioles Notebook

3rd baseman, catcher join O's Hall of Fame

August 27, 2006|By Childs Walker and Jeff Zrebiec | Childs Walker and Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporters

The Orioles inducted Doug DeCinces, a power-hitting third baseman who succeeded Brooks Robinson, and Chris Hoiles, a tough catcher who helped spearhead the club's last run of excellence, into the organization's Hall of Fame in a ceremony before yesterday's game.

The team also honored deceased trainers Ralph Salvon and Eddie Weidner with the Herb Armstrong Award for contributions from non-uniformed personnel.

Hoiles said he enjoyed going into the Hall with DeCinces.

"It's really kind of special because we've got two generations and two different stadiums and really, two different teams," he said. "It's kind of neat, him listening to my stories, me listening to his."

DeCinces, who played the first nine years of his career in Baltimore, is perhaps best remembered for taking over third base from Robinson. He recalled that every time the Orioles traveled to a new city, veteran writers asked him skeptically about filling the legendary player's shoes.

"It's the single thing I'm most proud of," DeCinces said. "Surviving that and going on to have my own career. ... It was an honor to do it honestly."

DeCinces went on to have his own highlights. He batted .286 with 28 homers in 1978 and is credited with starting Oriole Magic on June 22, 1979, when he hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth at Memorial Stadium. He later homered in his first World Series game for the Orioles.

Hoiles played all 10 of his major league seasons for the Orioles and posted one of the best hitting seasons ever for a catcher when he batted .310 with 29 homers and 82 RBIs in 1993.

Hoiles said the game he most remembered was the first at Camden Yards in 1992. He got the first extra-base hit in the new park.

Manager Sam Perlozzo was a coach during Hoiles' career and remembered putting ammonia towels on the catcher to help him endure the physical demands.

Hoiles career ended prematurely because of injuries.

"Hoiley had some more years in him, but he was a guy who played hurt," Perlozzo said. "At times, you felt bad for him because he couldn't move any better than he did, but he was still out there."

Said Hoiles: "I try not to think about [the pain]. There was enough good times that I don't need to think about it."

Dodgers eye Conine

While the Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies have been unable to reach a compromise in a deal for Jeff Conine, the Los Angeles Dodgers now are expressing interest in the 40-year-old veteran.

According to an industry source, the Dodgers and Orioles have had several talks in recent days about a deal that would send Conine to Los Angeles for a mid-level prospect.

The Phillies also remain interested in Conine, but an option in his contract has proved problematic. Conine has a $2 million option for 2007 in his contract, which will vest if he reaches 450 plate appearances, and he is on pace to easily eclipse that mark.

Conine went 1-for-4 with a homer yesterday, giving him 428 plate appearances on the season. The Phillies, who also are offering a mid-level prospect, want the Orioles to pay half of Conine's $2 million 2007 option, but the Orioles aren't willing to assume that much of it, said the source.

Stretching Ray

Perlozzo called on closer Chris Ray with one out in the eighth inning of Friday's win and said he's growing more comfortable using Ray for long saves.

The first-year closer said he doesn't mind being called on for more than one inning.

"I like the trust, and it's just working out right now where I've had a number of days off, because my arm feels strong," said Ray, who pitched the ninth inning yesterday.

Perlozzo said he probably wouldn't call on Ray for several multi-inning saves in succession. But he said the reliever has always been honest about his physical condition.

"I always go on how much he's pitched prior," Perlozzo said. "We hate to abuse him."

childs.walker@baltsun.com

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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