THE SPORTS SCENE:

O's First Quarter Report

by Darrell Carter
All thumbs are up for the rebuilding of the Baltimore Orioles through the first quarter of the '02 baseball campaign. No one knew what to expect from the once-dominating ball club of the '70's and early '80's. Except for two playoff appearances in the mid '90's, the O's have suffered greatly on the field and from losses to free agency.

This season several ball players have made notable contributions on the field, especially the rookie pitchers. Former Mexican League and rookie pitcher Rodrico Lopez led the American League in earned run average through the Memorial Day weekend. He joined former O's pitchers Ben McDonald and Rocky Coppinger to start the season 5-0. Also, 30-year-old rookie Travis Driskill has enjoyed great success, picking up two wins as a reliever and spot starter against the mighty Seattle Mariners. Jorge Julio has enjoyed his rookie season as the O's closer, amassing 9 saves. Rookie pitchers Rick Bauers and Sean Douglas have so far contributed only in the bullpen, waiting for their turn to crack the rotation.

Veteran pitchers Buddy Groom and Scott Erickson have been a stabilizing force in the rotation and the bullpen, respectively. Erickson missed the entire '01 season with ligament surgery on his pitching arm. He won three games in the first quarter and maintained an earned run average of under 4.70. Groom had appeared in 20 games by Memorial Day; he pitched in 70 or more games consecutively for five straight seasons. Sydney Ponson is finally displaying the potential that prompted the O's to sign this player from Aruba at the age of 17 in 1993. Also contributing out of the bullpen has been setup man Willis Roberts.

Rookie Geronimo Gil beat out veteran catcher Brooke Fordyce in spring training as the number one catcher. So far, Gil has shown homerun power and agility behind the plate. He dissipated all doubt from management about his ability to call a game, while tutoring a young pitching staff.

Tony Batista replaced the legendary Cal Ripken at third with mixed emotions from the fans. Bastista has produced at the plate and in the field, leading the team in homeruns and runs batted in, and has committed only six errors thus far. Second year man Jay Gibbons continues his assault on pitchers with a solid average and nine homeruns. The converted first baseman has committed only one error in right field. Left fielder Marty Cordova has been solid in the outfield with one error, and has batted around .300. Center field has been patrolled by newcomers Chris Singleton and Gary Matthews, Jr. Singleton had a thirteen-game hitting streak in May.

Veterans Jeff Conine and Mike Bordick have had slow starts, while Jerry Hairston's inconsistent play has prevented the Orioles from rising above third place. Boston and New York have proven superior in the first quarter and they are already odds-on favorites to compete for the division title.

Professional Lacrosse

The Baltimore Bayhawks have entered their second season in their new home, Ravens Stadium. On June 6, they will take on Rochester. Join the Bayhawks on the 13th and 29th of June, as they challenge New Jersey and Bridgeport respectively.

Lax legend Gary Gait will serve as player/coach this season, joining 16 new members of the returning National Division Champions. Jeff Will, formerly of Loyola High School and Johns Hopkins University and John Blatchely, formerly of Loyola High School and Towson University, will defend for the Bayhawks.

Call 866-99-Hawks for further information.


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This story was published on June 5, 2002.