- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Former Minnesota Twins outfielder Chad Allen is hoping his right knee has recovered enough from surgery to let him outpace Ryan McGuire for the job as the Baltimore Orioles' fourth outfielder.
"I'm praying to God that he gives me a new start," said Allen, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a game last August and underwent surgery six days later. "I'm going to work as hard as I can to get that start."
Before injuring the knee, Allen was batting .263 with four homers and 20 RBI for Minnesota, which released him after the injury.
His primary competition for the last outfield spot comes from McGuire, who appeared in 48 games last year with the Florida Marlins and also has played for the Montreal Expos and New York Mets. The Orioles would prefer keeping one of the veterans while allowing young prospects like Tim Raines Jr. and Luis Matos to begin the season at Class AAA Rochester.
The club already has decided to place Chris Richard on the 60-day disabled list before the April1 opener against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. Outfielder Albert Belle, who no longer can play because of an arthritic hip, and pitcher Pat Hentgen (elbow surgery) will join him, creating room on the 40-man roster for either Allen or McGuire.
Allen tore up his right knee during an Aug.14 game in Cleveland. The Twins placed him on the 60-day disabled list on Aug.29 and released him two months later.
Allen said he went to the wall after an extra-base hit by Kenny Lofton, and injured the knee while planting his right leg to make the throw.
"When I tried to throw, my right knee just went the other way on me," said Allen, 27. "Doctors said I had so much pressure on the knee that it was just time for it to go. It felt like somebody shot me in the leg. I thought I broke it."
Allen underwent surgery six days later and rehabilitation is still continuing. The outfielder, however, said the knee is 90 percent healed.
Allen worked out for the Orioles in January during an early camp in Sarasota, Fla., but wasn't offered a minor league contract. He later became the last spring invitee to sign with the club.
"He wasn't ready yet, but he was determined," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations. "We've always liked him. We like the way he goes about his business. He plays hard and has a strong makeup."
Meanwhile, the Orioles signed outfielder Melvin Mora to a one-year contract yesterday.
Terms of the deal were not announced.
Mora, 30, will miss the first few weeks of spring training because of a broken left ring finger fractured in a Venezuelan winter league game.
Mora's hand was placed in a cast in January, and he is expected to be ready to play by late March.
Mora had seven home runs, 48 RBI and a .250 batting average last year for the Orioles, splitting time between the outfield, where he played 88 games, and shortstop, where he played 43.
The Orioles also announced they had signed catcher Fernando Lunar and eight other players. Lunar hit .246 in 64 games last year, his first full season in the majors.
Also signed by the Orioles were left-handed pitchers Erik Bedard and Matt Riley; right-handed pitchers Rick Bauer, Steve Bechler, Mike Paradis, Luis Rivera and John Stephens, and outfielder Raines.
The Orioles said they now have 23 of 40 players on their major league roster under contract.

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