WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Pitcher Eric Hetzel has been sidelined with another shoulder problem, the seriousness of which will not be determined until he undergoes further evaluation.
Hetzel complained of shoulder soreness and was examined by Orioles orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein recently. He will visit Birmingham, Ala., orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.
"He has had problems at various times in his career," general manager Roland Hemond said, "and Dr. Andrews apparently had worked on his shoulder at some point. We're in the process of getting a second opinion. I don't know enough details yet."
Hetzel spent the final two months of the 1991 season on the disabled list, but the Orioles signed him to a major-league contract early in the offseason, so he probably would be entitled to his entire 1992 salary if he is unable to pitch.
The righthander, 28, was signed by the Orioles on Nov. 13 to add depth to the club's starting rotation, but the team may have acted too soon. By January, the market was flooded with experienced major-league pitchers who were willing to accept non-roster invitations and minor-league contracts. Lefthander Dennis Rasmussen was signed to a Triple-A Rochester Red Wings contract on Jan. 31 and immediately moved ahead of Hetzel on the club's depth chart.
Hetzel last pitched March 12, the same day his wife gave birth to twin girls in his hometown of Crowley, La. He went home to be with his family and informed the Orioles of the shoulder soreness upon his return.
"He came back and he was complaining about his shoulder," Hemond said. "When he pitched, everything seemed to be fine. He didn't say anything to anybody."
* SMOOTH RHODES: Manager John Oates continues to sound impressed with the progress made by promising lefthander Arthur Rhodes, who has given up one run over his first eight innings of exhibition work.
"From what I've seen, he has made great strides," Oates said. "He's throwing more strikes. He's changing speeds. He might be the most improved pitcher here."
* ON MEND: Lefthander Jim Poole experienced some minor soreness in his injured shoulder on the day after his 1992 exhibition debut, but he apparently is making sufficient progress in his recovery from tendinitis.
He probably will pitch again tomorrow or Friday.
* HORN CLOSE: Designated hitter Sam Horn still is taking treatment on his sore left hamstring, but he said he hopes to be ready to make his spring debut in tonight's game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Al Lang Stadium.
"I can still feel it when I do things I'm not prepared to do," he said, "but when I run, I know how to pace myself."
Horn has been out since the opening week of spring workouts. He suffered the strain when he slipped during a base-running drill.
* NEXT ASSIGNMENT: The four players who were re-assigned to minor-league camp on Sunday have been assigned to minor-league rosters. Infielder Ricky Gutierrez has been placed on the Rochester roster and the other three -- Cesar Devares, Manny Alexander and Brad Pennington -- will start the season with the Double-A Hagerstown Suns.