Valenzuela returns home to California, this time as a conquering hero

Orioles notebook

May 27, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer Staff writer Kent Baker contributed to this article.

NEW YORK -- Left-hander Fernando Valenzuela is hoping not too much will be made of his Southern California homecoming this weekend, but he will leave early today to take part in an afternoon news conference at Anaheim Stadium.

Valenzuela is scheduled to face right-hander Julio Valera tomorrow night at the Big A, which was the site of the two abortive starts that ended his first comeback in 1991. He is looking forward to the opportunity to make his return triumphant.

"I'm looking forward to doing something good over there," he said,"but it's nothing special. It's just another game that I'm going to try to win."

It won't be the first time that Valenzuela has visited his Los Angeles home since he joined the Orioles early in spring training. He went home on the day off between the first home series of the season and a visit to Seattle, but it still has been six weeks since he saw his three school-age children.

The last time Valenzuela pitched in Anaheim Stadium, he was coming to the end of a comeback attempt that didn't take. He will return with a 1-4 record, but that is not indicative of the way he has pitched.

He has thrown well in four of his past five starts, but has fallen victim to the Orioles' chronic run-production shortage. The team has scored just 17 runs in his seven starts (average of 2.4 per game).

Joiner mourned

The Orioles are mourning the death earlier this week of press-box attendant Vernon Joiner, 62, who had worked in the Orioles box since 1965.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Nativity in Baltimore.

Tartabull on DL

New York Yankees outfielder Danny Tartabull was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a bruised kidney, and the club recalled outfielder Hensley Meulens from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers to take his place on the 25-man roster.

Tartabull collided with teammate Gerald Williams in center field on Monday night while chasing down a triple by Brady Anderson. He took a knee in the back and had to be helped off the field. Tests taken that night revealed blood in his urine and convinced the club that he would need an extended recovery period.

Meulens was hitting .208 with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 43 games for the Clippers. He was tied for the International League lead in home runs and tied for third in RBI.

Devereaux and Baines return

Mike Devereaux and Harold Baines were scheduled to rejoin the club late last night. If they are ready to play, manager Johnny Oates said they will both be in the starting lineup for tonight's series finale.

To make room on the roster, look for outfielders Mark Leonard and Damon Buford to return to Rochester today. The club could send out Jack Voigt and keep Buford as insurance in case Devereaux is unable to play full-time right away, but it seems more likely Buford will be sent back to play regularly.

Midnight plane to California

The Orioles apparently asked the Yankees to reschedule tonight's game as a day game to allow them to get to California at a reasonable hour. Instead, the game will be played tonight and the Orioles are scheduled to get into Ontario (Calif.) International Airport at 4:30 a.m.

"They know that we wouldn't mind playing a day game," Oates said, "but if I was them, I might do the same thing."

He seemed to be inferring that the Yankees were engaging in a little gamesmanship, hoping that the tired Orioles would have a tougher time in California because of the strange scheduling.

"The [Chicago] Bulls get three days to get to Chicago and we get 12 hours to get to the West Coast," Oates said.

Surgery for Martinez

Chito Martinez will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today at Children's Hospital.

Martinez has been on the Baysox roster since April 27 but has played in only four games because of what was diagnosed as a knee strain.

"It hurts even when I change positions in bed," he said. "Pain just shoots through there."

Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin said the time has come "to go in and find out what the problem is. It hasn't improved. If there is nothing major wrong, he could be back in three weeks."

Obando in review

Sherman Obando suffered his hamstring strain running the bases after his third at-bat Monday. The club waited until the next day to see how he felt before deciding that a stay on the disabled list was warranted.

"He couldn't even put his shoe on," Oates said, "and it was worse the next day. He couldn't jog. If he couldn't jog, we figured it would be at least a week before he could run."

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