In the second inning of this season's first game, Oriole centerfielder Mike Devereaux made a terrific running catch to spark a 2-0 victory over Cleveland. It has been a season of big plays and big hits for Devereaux, who is one reason why, through Sunday, the surging Orioles were only 1� games behind Toronto.
At week's end Devereaux was hitting .286 with 22 homers, was fifth in the American League with 96 RBIs, tied for third in total bases, and ninth in slugging. With the bases loaded he's 11 for 19, with two homers and 32 RBIs. Since replacing the slumping Cal Ripken in the lumber 3 spot on Aug. 21, Devereaux has gone 23 for 59, with four homers and 14 RBIs. He has also had at east one RBI in each of his last eight games. And he's almost a lock to become the first Oriole outfielder in 12 years to drive in 100 runs ( Ken Singleton did it in 1980).
"I said three years ago that le had a chance to be a consistent 20-home-run, 80-RBI guy," says Baltimore assistant general manager Frank Robinson. "He's strong."
And he's fast. Devereaux, 29, still holds the Wyoming state high school records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and in the high jump. Kelly Walsh High in Casper, Wyo., didn't have a baseball team—"because of the weather, I think" he says—but he played organized ball up to the American Legion level. After a standout career at Arizona State, he was drafted by the Dodgers in 1985, but he was a bit player, at best. In 1989 he was traded to Baltimore for pitcher Mike Morgan. "Unless someone had been hurt severely, I wouldn't have gotten a chance," Devereaux said of his Dodger experience. "I was lucky to get out before my ability started to deteriorate." The Dodgers, by the way, haven't had a 100-RBI man since Pedro Guerrero in 1983.
A Bad Sign
Outfielder Vince Coleman was supposed to revitalize the sagging Mets when they signed him to a four-year, $11.95 million free-agent contract on Dec. 5,1990. Instead he has become one of the worst free-agent signees in history.
Coleman's act has gotten very ugly. Ejected by umpire Gary Darling on Sept. 1 for arguing a check-swing call in the second inning, Coleman became enraged, poking his finger in Darling's chest. Met manager Jeff Torborg ran from the dugout and tried to protect Coleman, getting between him and Darling. When Torborg gently pushed Coleman toward the Mets' dugout, Coleman wheeled, berated his manager and whipped Torborg's hand away from him. The argument carried over into the clubhouse, and Torborg and Met general manager Al Harazin suspended Coleman two days for insubordination. According to club sources, Coleman said that if he was suspended, he might not play his hardest the rest of the year, but how could anyone tell? Coleman is appealing the suspension, which cost him about $32,000. "Anytime you lose money, it's undeserved," he says.
That was the worst in a series of unseemly incidents involving the 30-year-old Coleman. On July 26, 1991, he cussed Met coach Mike Cubbage and threw equipment when Cubbage twice asked him not to take batting practice until it was his turn. In spring training this year he drew Torborg's ire by not running out a ball that was booted. During a rehab assignment on May 24 in A ball, he was thrown out of a game for disputing called third strike. On Aug. 30 he was ejected by umpire Bruce Froemming in the first inning for arguing another third strike call. Sources say he played golf the following day—Torborg has prohibited golf on game days—before a doubleheader. The day after that, he lashed out at Darling and then Torborg.
Last Friday, Coleman met with Torborg in Cincinnati, before his first game since the suspension. "I'm ready to play," he said. "I can play for Jeff." In the very next game he hit a looper over third, started to run, stopped because he thought it might be foul, then finally started running when he realized it was clearly in fair territory. Nice hustle.