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Alomar arrives at spring training

February 19, 1997

No surprise, Roberto Alomar showed up at spring training, and right away the questions started all over again about umpire John Hirschbeck.

``The only thing I can say about that is it’s already over and I don’t even want to talk about it,″ Alomar said Tuesday after reporting to the Baltimore Orioles’ camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

``I don’t want to bring that issue up,″ Alomar said. ``It’s already over and I have to move on. I’ve said what I have to say about that whole situation. I just want to play the game of baseball and have some fun at the game.″

Alomar will serve a five-game suspension at the start of the regular season for spitting in Hirschbeck’s face last September.

It might be a while, though, before Alomar is playing second base for the Orioles.

Alomar arrived in camp on crutches, nursing a badly sprained left ankle that could keep him sidelined for a week or two.

Hirschbeck is scheduled to work the Orioles’ exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at Fort Myers on March 17, but Alomar’s injury might shelve a possible meeting between the two.

Orioles owner Pete Angelos says Hirschbeck owes Alomar an apology, claiming the umpire provoked the second baseman with a profane epithet.

Yankees

David Wells’ career with New York took a second turn for the worse, and he hasn’t even thrown a pitch yet.

Wells, who broke his left hand in a fight outside a bar on Jan. 12, found out that he has gout.

The pitcher, who left Baltimore and signed a $13.5 million, three-year contract with the Yankees, thought he had turf toe. But tests performed Monday detected gout, a condition caused by excess uric acid in the blood. It can cause joint inflammation, and the condition sidelined the 248-pound pitcher for two weeks last season.

``It’s been a bad year,″ he said at Tampa, Fla. ``I’m frustrated because I want to get out there and participate. It’s fun to do that. It’s no fun sitting in here icing my foot and talking about my injury. I rather be out there and talking about baseball.″

Padres

NL MVP Ken Caminiti, still recovering from major surgery on his left rotator cuff, arrived a day early despite taking the long way to camp.

Caminiti’s drive from Houston to Peoria, Ariz., was delayed for 17 hours when his pickup broke down in west Texas on Sunday.

Caminiti unloaded his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and drove about 40 miles to the nearest town. The auto parts store was closed, so he had to call an emergency number to get someone to open up and sell him the part he needed.

``I was about ready to pull over to the side of the road, get a flight in here and tell my wife I totaled the truck or something,″ Caminiti said.

In his first workout in Peoria, the switch-hitter took left-handed swings off tosses from hitting coach Merv Rettenmund, but took batting practice right-handed, sending balls to the fence and over it.

``Left-handed has been giving me a problem,″ said Caminiti, who also took grounders at third. ``Right-handed, I could go out and play today.″

Tigers

Manager Buddy Bell says his wife wants him at spring training, but he insists on making frequent trips to their Cincinnati home as she is treated for tonsil cancer.

``I’m glad to be here,″ Bell said at Lakeland, Fla. ``I think I would’ve driven Gloria crazy if I wasn’t (in Florida), but it’s good because it gets my mind off the situation for a while. Not completely. It’s something I’m always thinking about, but I’m really looking forward to the season, so it’s good to get started.″

Bell said he expects to miss a day or two out of every 10 during spring training, although that could change.

``If I have to go home, then I’ll go home no matter what,″ he said. ``The club has been phenomenal about understanding that.″

Bell’s wife is expected to have five-days-a-week radiation treatments that are to end around the same time spring training ends. Doctors have told Bell she has an 85 percent chance for a full recovery.

Cardinals

Dennis Eckersley worked out again Tuesday, a day after St. Louis closer had an MRI for his sore right elbow. An MRI revealed only swelling.

``This is something that I had from last year,″ the 42-year-old reliever said. ``I thought it would be better to get this done now and find out instead of waiting until three weeks before the season. If there was something wrong, then we would know and take care of it. I’ll still throw in practice and keep an eye on it.″

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has had Eckersley as his reliever for nine seasons, including seven with the Oakland Athletics.

Indians

Tony Fernandez is wondering whether he was right to sign with Cleveland.

``I had other chances to play somewhere else, but my agent told me this was the best situation,″ Fernandez said at Winter Haven, Fla. ``Had I known what I do now, I may have had second thoughts. But I guess it’s too late now.″

Fernandez thought he’d be the starting second baseman, even though he has played mostly shortstop in his career.

Manager Mike Hargrove has said several players will get a chance to win the job as the regular at second. Fernandez is among the candidates. Others are Julio Franco, Robby Thompson, Enrique Wilson and Damian Jackson.

``When I signed, I was told I would be the second baseman,″ Fernandez said.

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