- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2000

The Baltimore Orioles thought they were on to something when they traded for Brook Fordyce late last month.
The day they made the trade for the player who has become their everyday catcher, Fordyce, then a member of the Chicago White Sox, was having dinner with some friends in Anaheim when he heard he and three minor league pitchers had been dealt to Baltimore in exchange for Charles Johnson and Harold Baines.
Instead of putting off the cross-county trip for a day or two, Fordyce rushed back to the team hotel, and hustled to the airport in time to catch a red-eye that put him in town the next morning.
"I was worn out when I got here, but I wanted to get to Baltimore as soon as possible," Fordyce said. "I figured the best thing to do was to get here early and see how I fit in."
So far, perfectly.
Since coming to Baltimore, Fordyce is batting .397 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 63 at-bats heading into the Orioles' game tonight against the White Sox in Chicago.
The Orioles are having another less-than-spectacular season, and they are basically playing for the future. Nonetheless, Fordyce has continued to exhibit the same type of dedication since he arrived.
For instance, Fordyce has made it a regular practice of warming up the starting pitcher in the bullpen.
"It's just something I do, it's something that I like," Fordyce said. "He gets to concentrate on my target, and I can get used to his mechanics. It gives me a chance to see how our guys move through their warm-ups."
This season Fordyce is batting .314 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI in 55 games. He missed his first 43 games of the season with a broken bone in his left foot.
He has been successful at the plate, but he is more concerned with becoming a better all-around player.
"I like hitting, period. One thing I worry about is getting along with the pitchers. I had a good year last year. I know I can hit. But the thing that's most important to me is that I learn how to handle the pitching staff."
Fordyce faced his former team last week and claimed not to miss it, even though the White Sox have a commanding lead in the American League Central and appear headed for the playoffs. The Orioles, meanwhile, are trying to avoid finishing in last place.
"It hasn't been strange," Fordyce said. "I fit in comfortably here. It feels good. It feels like I have been here longer than three weeks. It feels like I have been here a lot longer."
None of this has gone unnoticed by Orioles manager Mike Hargrove.
"He's a take-charge guy," Hargrove said. "Obviously he's not an introvert. As a catcher, having intelligence and understanding what you are supposed to do, having his kind of personality is a very good thing. He has shown us the ability to be a good receiver."
If Fordyce does have one weakness, it's his arm. He has thrown out just one runner in 16 attempts.
"We haven't given him many opportunities to throw runners out," Hargrove said. "Our pitchers, their release times have been a little on the slow side. There have been times when his throws have been a little bit off-line. I guess if you want to get picky about the situation, that's one area you have to look at.
"Overall he uses the whole field, and he understands the game very well. He understands the game and he works the pitchers extremely well. He calls a very good game."
Pitcher Chuck McElroy and Fordyce were teammates briefly in 1996. McElroy is glad to have him catching.
"He's a communicator. He comes out and starts conversation," McElroy said. "The last couple of times he has caught me I have hardly had to ever shake him off. Basically I let him call the game. He does it very well."

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