Bowie's DuBois refuses to pull off long, winding comeback road Minor-league notebook

BASEBALL

July 04, 1993|By Kent Baker

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Baseball's road has been long and winding for Brian DuBois, but he isn't about to stop driving.

Once upon a time, he was at the top of the hill -- in the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers -- and his path seemed clear and smooth.

Now, 26, he is trying to climb the mountain again in second gear, chugging along with the Bowie Baysox in the hope of reaching the peak for the second time. Twice DuBois has undergone operations on his left (pitching) elbow.

In late 1990 after winning three games for the Tigers and five in Triple-A, he was forced to have "Tommy John surgery" 16 days after being reclaimed on waivers by the Orioles, who originally had drafted him five years earlier on the fourth round.

The Orioles traded DuBois to the Tigers for Keith Moreland during their pennant run of 1989.

DuBois spent all of 1991 on the Orioles' disabled list, throwing one pitch on an abortive rehabilitation assignment.

"There was discomfort, so we shut it down immediately," he said.

Then, he had to undergo another operation to reattach the ligament to the bone and missed all of 1992.

Now DuBois has resurfaced this season with a 6-2 record and Carolina League-leading 1.55 ERA at Single-A Frederick -- his best start -- before advancing to the Baysox early last month.

He has yet to win for Bowie after five starts and missed one turn with some soreness. But his ERA is at 2.97, and he appears to be on the right road.

"There is still tenderness in his arm, and that's to be expected," said Baysox pitching coach John O'Donoghue. "But the last start at Reading his velocity was better than at any time since he's been here.

"It's going to be a slow process and right now the important thing for him is to be healthy. I do see progress. The frustrating part is that he cannot do what he used to do."

The comeback trail should be easier for DuBois, a finesse pitcher, than it was for a former hard thrower such as Anthony Telford. But he must be careful not to harm his left shoulder while favoring the elbow.

"Jose Mesa came back from this. More and more people are coming back quicker and quicker," he said. "I've got a start, but really I'm just happy to be pitching."

NOTES: Baysox left-hander Rick Krivda is the only member of the team who was picked for the Double-A All-Star Game next week at Memphis, Tenn. Krivda is 6-3 with a 3.43 ERA. Bowie's Don Buford will manage the American League team based on his team's 37-30 record through June 24. . . . Erik Schullstrom has a 7.64 ERA against Canton-Akron and a 1.20 ERA against the rest of the league. . . . Stanton Cameron led the team with six home runs in June, three more than he had in April and May. . . . Kyle Washington is 14-for-31 (.451) with 10 runs scored, two homers, seven stolen bases and eight RBI in the past 12 games. ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- If there's one statistic most players don't like to talk about, it's their errors. Manny Alexander, however, would rather talk about that number than his batting average.

The Red Wings shortstop is thrilled to have made only eight errors in 60 games, a pace that would trim at least a dozen off the more than 30 he had last season at Double-A. As long as he plays well defensively, he said he can live with his batting average of .260.

Most of last year's errors came on wild throws as Alexander, 23, showed off his arm by waiting until the last instant to throw out runners. "I tried to throw too hard," he said. "Now, as soon as I catch the ball, I throw it."

Watching Cal Ripken in spring training reinforced that lesson. "I watch everything he does," Alexander said. "He makes every play because he knows everything."

* Mike Bielecki threw 77 of his allotted 80 pitches in his debut Thursday and came out of the 7-1 loss to Richmond reporting that his right elbow felt fine. Bielecki gave up five runs in the fourth inning, one on a wild pitch.

One good sign was he pitched ahead. He threw 15 of 23 first pitches for strikes and finished with one walk and six strikeouts. Bielecki, who underwent elbow surgery last year and was picked up by the Orioles last week, is expected to have his pitch limit increased to close to 100 in his next start.

* Outfielder Mark Smith and left-hander John O'Donoghue were named as starters and second baseman Tommy Hinzo was selected as a reserve for the American League in the sixth annual Triple-A All-Star Game, July 14 in Albuquerque, N.M.

While O'Donoghue and Smith said they were flattered, the honor may mean more to Hinzo, who spent the past two seasons in Mexico.

"The recognition doesn't hurt," said Hinzo, 29, who was batting .278 with three homers, 39 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

* With newest starters Bielecki and Arthur Rhodes on pitch limits, the bullpen could expect more work. Starters O'Donoghue and Kevin McGehee aren't likely to be pushed off their scheduled days, but Mike Oquist and Jason Satre will have to accommodate the newcomers.

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