- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. The three-headed monster that is the Baltimore Orioles' catching corps likely will stay that way for a couple more weeks.
Manager Mike Hargrove yesterday said he has not yet decided which two catchers among the trio of Brook Fordyce, Geronimo Gil and Fernando Lunar will make the Opening Day roster. And the final cut may not be made until the team returns to Baltimore on March 31 for its final spring workout.
Though each of the three catchers has had his moments this spring, none has separated himself from the pack.
"I really don't know," Hargrove said. "I thought I did a week ago, and now I'm not sure. But that's good. I'm really glad that I don't. It's not that I don't know because there's no one to choose. It's that I don't know because those guys are all making good cases."
It's hard to imagine that Fordyce, the Orioles' regular catcher in 2001, won't make the roster. The 31-year-old hit just .209 last season but still has two years remaining on his contract, making his release or trade unlikely.
Fordyce's starting job behind the plate, though, is anything but assured.
"With the year I had, it should be that way," Fordyce said. "Obviously, I want to be there just like the other two want to be there. But I need to go out, do my job, help the team win and let Skip make the decision."
Hargrove's decision has been complicated by Gil's impressive play over the past few weeks. Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, the 26-year-old has pleasantly surprised the Orioles' coaching staff with both his bat and his ability to work with pitchers. After going 1-for-3 yesterday (he pulled off a perfect hit-and-run with Larry Bigbie, driving a single through the right-side hole) Gil is hitting .333 for the spring.
He could be deemed Baltimore's starter, ahead of Fordyce, before the season starts. Hargrove doesn't envision a scenario in which two catchers split the job.
"We'll name a No. 1 catcher, and he'll get the bulk of the playing time," he said. "It's not going to be, 'You play two days, this guy will play two days and we'll flip a coin for the fifth.'"
The only reason Gil might not make the team is the fact he still has a minor league option, while Lunar must pass through waivers if the Orioles attempt to send him down.
A more plausible scenario, should Baltimore decide to keep Fordyce and Gil, would be to trade Lunar.
Notes
Scott Erickson pitched six innings for the second straight start but gave up eight hits in the Orioles' 8-1 win over the Texas Rangers yesterday. Erickson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, had trouble locating his sinker (his primary pitch) but still managed to strike out six while walking one. He remains on schedule to start Opening Day against the Yankees, though Hargrove has not made it official. …
First baseman/DH David Segui took batting practice yesterday and had no complications. Segui strained his right Achilles' tendon Friday night and has not appeared in a game since. Hargrove said he expects him to be back in the lineup by the end of the week. …
Jorge Julio continues to pitch well in the ninth inning this spring. One of several young closer candidates, Julio gave up one hit and hit a batter yesterday, but he recorded three strikeouts to finish the game.



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