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Devereaux Gets Chance to Flourish

June 18, 1989|TIM KURKJIAN | The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — Mike Devereaux flashed a smile when asked where he would be now if he were in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system.

"Where's Albuquerque?" he said.

That's the Dodgers' triple-A team, and that's where Mike Devereaux, 26, would be if the Baltimore Orioles hadn't acquired him this spring in a trade for pitcher Mike Morgan. Morgan leads the National League with a 1.47 ERA, but the Orioles say they're happy with their side of that trade.

"He's going to be an above-average major league player," Orioles hitting coach Tom McCraw said of Devereaux. "He has a chance to be a hell of a player, not just a big-league player."

With left fielder Phil Bradley hurt (knee, heel, forearm, shoulder), and Brady Anderson (one hit in his last 37 at-bats) and Steve Finley (3 for 35) struggling, Devereaux has started the last five games. Before this stretch, he had not started more than three consecutive games.

It's as if these young, fast Orioles outfielders take turns showing their skills. Finley put his on display all spring. Anderson was a terror for the first 41 games. Now, it's Devereaux's turn.

In his last six games, he has gone 13 for 26 (.500). In his last 14 games, he has gone 23 for 52 (.442). He has raised his batting average to .347, which is 45 points higher than the next Oriole (Joe Orsulak).

His average is higher than that of any other American League rookie's. His slugging average (.495) is higher than that of any other Oriole except Mickey Tettleton (.495). He is the only Oriole to have four straight multi-hit games.

Not that batting is the extent of his talents. Solid defensively, Devereaux also has stolen eight bases in his last 14 games. Twice he has stolen third in key spots.

Sunday, he stole third with one out in the sixth inning. With two out, he scored on a throwing error. He is doing what Anderson was doing until his recent slump.

"He and Brady, they're a spark in the lineup," said Orioles first baseman Randy Milligan. "They put so much pressure on the defense. You just know they're going to make something happen."

The only thing he hasn't done is hit with runners in scoring position (4 for 27, .148). In his last 10 games, he's had 17 hits in 38 at-bats, but no RBI. However, he has come to bat only seven times with runners on base and four times with runners in scoring position.

The way Devereaux has played the last two weeks is how he played for four seasons in the Dodgers' minor-league system. He stole between 31 and 40 bases in each of those four seasons and hit over .300 in all four. Last year, he hit .340 with 13 homers, 76 RBI and 33 stolen bases for Albuquerque.

"I like to run. I like to be aggressive," said Devereaux. "It's fun."

For him, it's fun being an Oriole.

"The second day of spring training this year with the Dodgers, they announced that the starting team was set," said Devereaux. "How's that supposed to make a young player feel? They just had too many big-name players ... make that big-money players, I mean."

Devereaux was just a player with potential. He has gone beyond that with the Orioles, but no one is sure how good he can be, because he hasn't played that much: 101 at-bats simply isn't enough time.

"He's done the job for us," Manager Frank Robinson said. "I like the way he's gone about his work. He's a great guy to have on the team. He doesn't complain."

In Devereaux, the Orioles see a potential all-around player.

"He's got a good arm, he's got great speed, he's great defensively and he's got some thump in his bat," McCraw said. "He fits in well with what we're doing here. He's taking advantage of it."

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