Hrbek injures shoulder, will miss up to six weeks

American League notes

March 29, 1992

Minnesota Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek will be sidelined for as long as six weeks because of a dislocated left shoulder.

Hrbek, who batted .284 with 20 home runs and 89 RBI last season, suffered the injury during an exhibition game yesterday while making a headfirst slide into third base.

The injury occurred in the third inning. Kirby Puckett singled and scored on Hrbek's double to left-center. Trying for third, Hrbek rolled over and injured the same shoulder he had hurt three years ago.

* RED SOX: Addressing reports that he was upset about having to bat first, Wade Boggs said he would be content in the role because he believes that center fielder Ellis Burks would be upset about being the leadoff hitter.

Boggs said he had told manager Butch Hobson early in spring training that he wanted to bat third, and that Hobson had agreed.

"The next couple of days I got some bad vibes from Ellis that he doesn't like to lead off. I think Ellis is more suited for [hitting] three, four, five, rather than leading off, and I felt that this was a possible volatile situation," said Boggs, who went back to Hobson. "I told him that I think it'd be better that I lead off, rather than hit third, so we don't have any problems with the ballclub."

Boggs, a .345 career hitter, has hit first in 10 of the 14 exhibition games he has played in.

He hit .347 as a leadoff hitter in 108 games last season and .271 in 32 games batting third.

* BREWERS: Dante Bichette was given a tryout at third base, a position that became open when the club traded Gary Sheffield to the Padres on Friday.

Bichette, an outfielder, couldn't reach a couple of high chops but handled some chances without error in a game against the Cubs.

"I'll play him there a couple of more times to see how he looks," manager Phil Garner said.

The Brewers may use veteran Jim Gantner at third or move catcher B. J. Surhoff there.

"I know those guys can play there. We were very successful with Jim Gantner full time at third last year, but that only happened for two months. He can play it and quite well. I'm confident B. J. could play there quite well, too," Garner said.

* ROYALS: Manager Hal McRae has picked right-hander Kevin Appier to start in the opener, a road game against the Athletics, on April 6.

McRae made the decision because Mike Boddicker has struggled this spring.

"I wasn't sure I wanted to put the pressure of Opening Day on a guy like Appier at first," McRae said. "But having watched Appier perform this spring, and knowing that he probably is our No. 1 guy anyway, made me change my mind."

Appier, 24, was 13-10 with a 3.42 ERA last year, his first full season with Kansas City. He is 0-2 this spring with a 5.27 ERA, inflated after his only poor performance of the spring, in his last outing.

Boddicker, 34 and a nine-year veteran, is 0-2 this spring with a 6.46 ERA.

* YANKEES: Manager Buck Showalter remains noncommittal on who will be the starting third baseman. He insisted Friday that he hasn't decided between Charlie Hayes and Hensley Meulens and that he will not do so until late this week.

Yet, it is becoming increasingly evident that Hayes figures to be at third on Opening Day, April 7 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Hayes seems to be winning the competition in Florida, and, equally important, he has the support of general manager Gene Michael.

The latest reminder that Michael is behind the infielder he traded for during the off-season came Thursday when third baseman Kevin Seitzer was placed on waivers by the Royals for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.

The Royals wanted to trade Seitzer to the Yankees last summer when he lost his starting job. Despite their monumental problems at third base in 1991, the Yankees weren't interested in Seitzer then. And Michael displayed even less interest Thursday, when he said, "We got a guy who can play pretty well at third base."

He didn't name Hayes, but he didn't have to. Hayes is considered Michael's man. And soon it figures he will be Showalter's man, too. All Hayes has to do is stay reasonably close to the form he has displayed in spring training.

With 15 hits in his past 38 at-bats, he has overcome a 1-for-15 start to raise his average to .302. Meulens is hitting .152 (5-for-33). Meulens has made four errors; Hayes has none.

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