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Belle Joins Spring Training

February 20, 2000

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Albert Belle joined the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training camp Sunday and immediately made it clear that he again won’t be talking much to reporters this season.

When he arrived at camp last year, Belle peeked his head into the press room and cheerfully answered all questions. But after he threw a fit in the clubhouse during an exhibition game and the tantrum was reported, Belle clammed up.

He spoke to reporters after only one game _ when he hit three home runs July 25 against Anaheim.

As he walked off the field Sunday following a brief private workout, Belle was approached by a Baltimore cameraman who asked, ``Would you mind answering a few questions?″

Belle replied, ``Yes, I would″ before stepping into the dugout that leads to the clubhouse.

Arriving well ahead of the Feb. 22 reporting date for veterans, Belle briefly spoke with manager Mike Hargrove before going about his business.

``It was fine. I told a joke and he laughed. He told one, and I laughed,″ Hargrove said. ``That was about it.``

Notes: Hargrove said he plans to take 11 pitchers back north in April, including four starters. ``We won’t need a fifth starter until April 9th or 10th, so until then I’ll carry an extra position player. Then we’ll convert to a 12-man staff. The AL game is a matchup thing from the seventh inning on and that calls for a 12-man staff.″ Hargrove said he plans to give each of his starters 30 innings of work this spring. He also said that Jason Johnson will be the fourth starter in the rotation. Pat Rapp is the favorite to claim the final spot, while Jose Mercedes, Calvin Maduro and Radhames Dykhoff are longshots.

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