Orioles Bench Belle
ATLANTA (AP) _ Baltimore’s Albert Belle was not in the starting lineup for Friday’s game against the Braves after a shouting match with Orioles manager Ray Miller, threatening the outfielder’s streak of 392 consecutive games played.
Belle, baseball’s active leader in consecutive games played, was replaced in right field by Jeff Conine.
``I just came in and saw the lineup,″ Conine said prior to the game. ``That’s all I want to say about it. It’s a sensitive issue.″
Both Belle and Miller have declined to comment on the incident, which occurred during Wednesday night’s 4-2 victory over the Florida Marlins.
Belle, who went 0-for-5 in the game and has gone through a disappointing season, failed to run out a ground ball in the top of the ninth.
In the bottom of the inning, Miller replaced Belle in the outfield with Rich Amaral, a move the manager said he planned to make before Belle’s groundout. But the temperamental slugger was unaware of the move until he was on his way to his outfield position, eventually jogging back to the dugout.
In the dugout, TV cameras caught an exchange of profanities between Miller and Belle. Belle yelled angrily at Miller and was restrained by teammate Jeff Reboulet. Miller waved Belle off with a toss of his hand.
Belle, who signed a $65 million, five-year contract with Baltimore in December, has been suspended six times during his career and his disdain of the media is well known.
Belle was hitting only .244 with one home run in his previous 21 games. The Orioles, with a $78.5 million opening-day payroll, are the most disappointing team in baseball with a 22-36 record, and there has been speculation that Miller’s job is in jeopardy.