Orioles right-hander Rick Sutcliffe revealed yesterday that he has been pitching with torn cartilage in his left knee.
Sutcliffe, who struggled through a 2 1/3 -inning relief appearance yesterday, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Saturday and considered undergoing surgery today to correct the problem. That still is a possibility, but he would rather try to get through the rest of the season.
"It's been there for a while," Sutcliffe said. "Surgery would end it [the season]. I've pitched on it this long, so I'm going to finish the year. I decided against surgery [today]."
The injury might explain why the veteran has struggled during the past several weeks. In his past 10 starts, he was 1-7 with a 7.97 ERA, persuading manager Johnny Oates to move him out of the starting rotation.
Sutcliffe didn't have to wait long to get back to the mound. He was relegated to the Orioles' bullpen Friday and made his first relief appearance in more than two years yesterday against the Texas Rangers.
He relieved left-hander Arthur Rhodes after the Rangers had scored two runs in the sixth inning to break open a close game, but if he was looking for a change of fortune, it didn't happen.
Sutcliffe retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh, then walked Rafael Palmeiro (who stole second) and gave up a soft single to Juan Gonzalez for the run.
The Rangers added three runs in the ninth, though two scored on a two-out error by Cal Ripken after Sutcliffe had left the game.
Hammonds to test neck
Rookie outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds will take batting practice today to see how his sore neck has progressed. He is eligible to come off the disabled list soon, but he'll have to prove he's healthy enough to help before he is reinstated to the roster.
"I'll take some BP and try to get back out there," Hammonds said. "I'll know more when I can get out there and throw and hit at full speed."
Hammonds is suffering from a herniated disk in his neck, but he's hoping that he can rehabilitate the injury with exercise and non-invasive treatment. He said that the possibility of surgery to correct the problem has not been discussed.
"I know when you hear herniated disk, surgery comes to mind," he said, "but I didn't even want to talk about what the other options were. That's not something I'm looking at."
Reserve catcher Mark Parent has been bothered by soreness in his left wrist, but he remains available.
"It's an old injury," he said. "I just couldn't seem to get it loosened up today, but it's all right."
It hasn't kept him from swinging a timely bat. He has 10 hits in his 38 major-league at-bats and has driven in 10 runs.
Closer Gregg Olson continues to play catch and has reported no problems with his injured right elbow, but he still is not close to coming back. . . . The Orioles' home winning streak ended at nine, two short of the Camden Yards record set last June. . . . The Orioles and their minor-league affiliates entered yesterday with a combined .535 winning percentage, which would equal the highest by the club's teams since 1986.