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Bargain-Basement Infielder Gets His Chance With Indians

March 09, 1986|Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — At age 30, 5-foot-7 infielder Dan Rohn is finally getting his first real shot at the major leagues.

The Cleveland Indians plan to elevate Rohn to the majors as the replacement for veteran utility infielder Mike Fischlin, who was traded to the New York Yankees during the winter meetings. The unspoken reason for the switch was money: Rohn will make $60,000 this year; Fischlin will get $190,000.

After spending most of nine seasons in the minor leagues, Rohn is looking at 1986 as "the biggest break of my career."

"Basically, what it's come down to is not being in the right place at the right time," Rohn said at the Indians' spring training camp. "You have to be somewhere where the opportunity is present."

In eight seasons with the Chicago Cubs' organization, Rohn was promoted to the big leagues only twice. He hit .387 for 23 games in 1983 and .129 for 25 games in 1984.

"You can say he's never been in the majors long because of (Cubs' infielder) Ryne Sandberg and people like that," said Cleveland Manager Pat Corrales. "He's ideal for what our needs are in a utility player.

"His natural position is second base, but he played shortstop (at Class AAA Maine) last year and did a very good job. We know he can fill in for (shortstop) Julio Franco for a day or two. Plus, he can play third base and we've got him working with a first-base glove and a catcher's glove."

The Indians acquired Rohn from the Cubs last spring for pitcher Jay Baller. The left-handed hitting Rohn batted .261 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs for the Guides and he drew an International League-leading 116 walks.

"I'm too small to try to hit the pitcher's pitch," Rohn said. "I've always been the kind of hitter who tries to make them give me a pitch I can handle."

Rohn says he's preparing himself to handle any position in the field, including catcher.

"I'm sure they're going to play me everywhere," he said. "I'll probably even end up playing a little outfield by the time it's all over with."

The catching drills have been something of an adventure for the 166-pounder this spring.

"I've caught before, but I've never been through the drills," Rohn said. "You should have seen me trying to catch pop-ups on my first day. The first pop-up, I fell on my rear. Then I couldn't get my mask off on the second one. It's a little scary, but it's fun because it's part of the game."

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