DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Left-hander Jim Poole, who returned to Baltimore during the weekend to have his sore shoulder examined, is suffering from an inflamed rotator cuff and will have to start the season on the disabled list.
Orioles orthopedist Dr. Charles Silberstein put Poole through a series of tests Monday to determine the cause of soreness that has hampered Poole since the club opened workouts in January. He diagnosed the problem as tendinitis of the left rotator cuff and also detected some wearing of the labrum (shoulder socket).
Poole has been placed on anti-inflammatory medication and will curtail all athletic activity for the next seven to 10 days before beginning a rehabilitation program. He is not expected to throw again until after the club opens the regular season, so he probably will miss at least the first two weeks of play.
"We know now that he is not going to be ready for Opening Day,"manager John Oates said. "That means we will be without one player that played a very important part on our ballclub last year. You just hope and pray that's the only guy we lose all year."
The Orioles have managed to get through the first month of spring training with the projected roster relatively intact. Sam Horn missed some time with a sore hamstring and Mike Devereaux was out briefly with a groin injury, but Poole represents the first significant loss of the year.
"Now, we have to step back, readjust and see how we can be best," Oates said. "We'll have to look at the situation and see how everyone fits in."
It isn't that hard to figure out. The loss of Poole leaves a temporary opening in the bullpen that will be filled by one of the surplus starters -- most likely left-hander Dennis Rasmussen. Oates has said all spring that he would prefer to have two left-handed relievers, and Rasmussen is the only left-handed candidate left under consideration.
Tough outing for Williamson
Right-hander Mark Williamson struggled through a two-run seventh inning in the Orioles' 6-5 exhibition loss to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday at Grant Field.
"I felt good out there today, and I still gave up two runs," Williamson said.
Williamson suffered through a difficult season in 1991, which left his role on this year's club open to debate. His spring numbers are not all that bad -- 9 2/3 innings, two earned runs -- but he has allowed 17 base runners, and opposing hitters are batting .353.
"He gave up a couple of hits and we didn't make a play," Oates said. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You look at the hits per inning. I'm sure we'd like for that to be better, but he probably just needs some work."
Third baseman Leo Gomez has not been able to hide the frustration that has come with his lackluster performance at the plate this spring, so Oates talked with him yesterday.
"He was really down," Oates said. "He's worrying a lot. He said: 'I don't want anyone to think that because Craig Worthington isn't here and I'm a lock to make the team. I just can't get it going.'
"I told him to let me worry about that and I'm not worried. He seemed relieved. He had a smile on his face for a change."
Gomez is batting .135 with one RBI in 37 at-bats, but he is in no danger of forfeiting any playing time at third base.
The USS Mercedes
The Orioles have found the solution to the sometimes out-of-control aggressive base running of Luis Mercedes.
"You know those hooks they have on aircraft carriers to stop the planes?" Oates said. "Well, we're going to install one of those at first base. When it's a single, it pops up and catches him."
Hoiles hits his third
Catcher Chris Hoiles hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to make it a one-run game and take over the club lead with three spring home runs.
Hoiles has not hit for a high average (.242), but he ranks second on the club with eight RBI.