Growing DL injures Orioles' chances

KEN ROSENTHAL

August 14, 1993|By KEN ROSENTHAL

NEW YORK -- It's official: The Orioles now have a better team on the disabled list than they do on the field.

Sad, that's the only word for what is happening to this team.

Jamie Moyer pitched his heart out last night. Jim Poole and Todd Frohwirth represented the once-proud bullpen. Johnny Oates managed the game to win, when logic said he could not.

All night, the 36,168 fans smelled blood, as only a New York crowd can. Not long ago, the Orioles could have withstood the electricity at Yankee Stadium. But not now. Not anymore.

Yankees 4, Orioles 1.

And that won't be the last of it.

Mike Mussina was a 1993 All-Star. Glenn Davis and Gregg Olson are former All-Stars. Jeffrey Hammonds is a future All-Star.

Chris Hoiles has hit 40 home runs in his past 618 at-bats. Leo Gomez, the worst player in the group, has been a regular for two seasons.

That's the DL gang.

The live birds, you ask?

Oates emerged from his office three hours before the game, looking puzzled.

"He came out to see if we had nine," assistant general manager Frank Robinson said.

Oh, they had nine, but the spring-training blueprint, this wasn't. A battery of Moyer and Mark Parent. Jack Voigt in right field. Tim Hulett at third base. John O'Donoghue and Mike Oquist in the bullpen.

Moyer took a two-hit shutout into the seventh, but didn't retire another batter. Single by Don Mattingly. Doubles by Danny Tartabull and Mike Stanley. Oates went right to Poole, knowing Frohwirth was his only other veteran available.

"Bos and I sat there and talked," Oates said, referring to pitching coach Dick Bosman. "We said, 'How early do we go to the veterans?' We said, 'We've come this far. We've just got to go get them.' "

Poole and Frohwirth got the Orioles out of the inning, but Frohwirth gave up two more runs in the eighth, and that was that. The Yankees turned four double plays. The Yankees had their best players on the field. The Yankees had life.

The Orioles?

They're going, going, almost gone.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, Oates sat at his desk, furiously scribbling lineups, while Robinson sat at a table in the middle of the clubhouse, furiously completing the paperwork for the latest roster moves.

Plan A was for O'Donoghue to replace Olson and Oquist to linger one day in case he was needed in the bullpen. Then Oates learned that Hoiles had more pain in his lower back, due in part to a few hard sneezes.

That made Oquist an Oriole.

"Who?" one player asked.

Rather than debate strategy, Oates and Robinson spent the pre-game trying to figure out whether they should say that Hoiles had aggravated his injury, or re-aggravated it.

The winner was aggravated. As in aggravation. As in bye-bye, pennant.

"John, the easy part comes in three hours, when you play the game," Robinson said.

"Did you watch the last three?" Oates replied.

And so it went, gallows humor all day.

Yes, every team gets injuries, but there are so many times a contender can rely on clutch performance from a Buford or Voigt -- not to mention a Moyer or Fernando Valenzuela.

The Orioles went through April without placing a player on the DL for the first time since 1981. That was a sure sign the trainer's room was about to become more crowded than Camden Yards.

Mike Devereaux, Harold Baines, Brady Anderson, Arthur Rhodes -- they've all missed time. Mussina? He's pitching at Double-A Bowie. Hoiles? He'll be out at least another week. Olson? He might not return until September.

In 1986, the Orioles contended into August, then went 14-42 after an injury to closer Don Aase. In '90, they followed the same pattern, then had their worst August in 36 years after losing home-run leader Randy Milligan.

Olson is their closer.

Hoiles is their home-run leader.

Need we say more?

"I can't remember it being this bad," Robinson said. "You say in spring training, 'If we stay away from injuries to our front-line players, we'll be all right.' But we haven't been able to do that.

"If you have this happen to you earlier in the season, you can make up for it. But now, every game is so important."

At 7:38 p.m., the Orioles resumed their quest for the AL East title.

It hardly seemed worth the trouble.

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