NEW YORK -- It's getting to the point where the Orioles more closely resemble a M*A*S*H unit that a major-league baseball team.
The parade of players onto the disabled list continued yesterday, when Gregg Olson and Chris Hoiles were added. The move with Olson, who has been sidelined a week with a tender elbow, had been expected,but the revelation that Hoiles also would remain sidelined was a stunner. "I had him in one of my possible lineups," said manager Johnny Oates, who got the news yesterday afternoon.
Hoiles had missed 10 games because of a strain in the right side of his lower back. He had been expected to return to the lineup against the Yankees this weekend.
"He said he was a little sore after taking batting practice yesterday, then it stiffened up on him on the plane," Oates said.
"I took BP the last couple of days and felt fine," Hoiles said. "But it tightened up on the plane, and when I sneezed three or four times, it was hard to breathe. I had to get up and walk around to catch my breath. By the time I got to the hotel, it was really starting to hurt."
The setback takes Hoiles back to where he was when he had to leave a game against Milwaukee on Aug. 2. "It feels similar to the initial pain I had in the beginning," he said.
"To tell you the truth, I have no idea [when I'll play again]. Hopefully, by the time we get off this road trip, I'l be all right.
But neither Hoiles nor Oates would venture a guess as to how much longer the catcher would be out. The prognosis does not appear to be good for either Hoiles or Olson.
"I'd say it's almost like being back to Day One for Chris," Oates said. Hoiles was put on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, making him eligible to return Wednesday, when the Orioles close out this trip in Seattle, but he'll need more time than that.
Olson hasn't pitched since last Sunday and the Orioles have become concerned about his condition. "Any time I hear somebody talk about tendons or ligaments and it's a pitcher involved, I pay very close attention," Oates said when asked about Olson. The Orioles' relief ace was diagnosed as having a strained ligament. He was scheduled for more tests last night in Baltimore.
The Orioles have six players on the disabled list -- Hoiles, Olson, starter Mike Mussina, outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, third baseman Leo Gomez and first baseman Glenn Davis. During the season, the Orioles have had their top player at every position except shortstop and second base on the disabled list at one time or another.
"About the only good thing about it," Oates said, "is that they've been spread out for the most part. If we'd had them all at once it would have been a disaster."
With Hoiles and Olson sidelined, the Orioles added pitchers John O'Donoghue and Mike Oquist to their roster in time for last night's game. That left Oates with a 12-man pitching staff which, after the beating inflicted by the Tigers in Detroit, still may not be enough.
Fernando Valenzuela, who lasted two-thirds of an inning in Thursday's 17-11 loss in Detroit, joined O'Donoghue and Oquist as possible long relievers in the bullpen last night.
"In the situation we're in this weekend, 12 is not too many pitchers," Oates said.