Olson isn't ready to return, yet Closer encouraged, but still cautious

Orioles notebook

September 13, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Pitching coach Dick Bosman and Gregg Olson reported progress for the injured reliever yesterday, but manager Johnny Oates remains cautious about the possible return of the Orioles' closer.

"He said he had no difficulty, and I was encouraged by what I saw," Bosman said after supervising Olson's latest workout in the bullpen before last night's game with the Oakland Athletics. "I think he's getting closer, and if he continues he might not be that far away [from a return to the active list]."

Bosman wouldn't guess as to when he thought Olson might return, and the reliever was reluctant to speculate, too.

"I've used up all the cliches," said Olson, "but I don't know what else to say. I felt pretty good [after the workout]. I feel like I'm improving every time out, which is my goal. But I'm not comfortable enough yet to be completely free [with his pitches]."

Oates said he has been operating on the theory that Olson won't be available for the rest of the year. "We're going to continue to work with him and, hopefully, he'll become available," said Oates. "But I have to go on the assumption that he won't be back."

Olson hasn't pitched since Aug. 8 because of a slight ligament tear in his right elbow. In his absence, Oates has relied on Alan Mills, Todd Frohwirth and Jim Poole as the primary closers.

Hammonds stays put

Jeffrey Hammonds will not accompany the Orioles to Boston for the start of the nine-game trip. Instead, the rookie outfielder will remain in Baltimore for treatment at the Bennett Institute.

Hammonds has been bothered all year by a herniated disk in the neck area. He has been available only for spot duty, mostly as a pinch runner, and probably won't play in the field again this year.

Darwin on deck?

Because he was scratched from his scheduled start in Cleveland on Saturday, Red Sox right-hander Danny Darwin may face the Orioles this series.

In the rotation given to Oates over the weekend, the Red Sox listed John Dopson as tonight's starter, followed by Frank Viola and Roger Clemens. "But they also said that Darwin might be available to start any of the games," said Oates.

Darwin missed his turn over the weekend because of a split fingernail on his throwing hand.

Smith sits again

Oates had hoped to give Lonnie Smith a start against Oakland but couldn't find a spot. "We had some guys with good numbers against [Bob] Welch and he [Smith] was only 2-for-20 against [Ron] Darling," said Oates, explaining why Smith didn't start the past two nights.

However, he did make his first appearance last night in the eighth inning, walking in front of a home run by Cal Ripken. Smith will be used mostly as a designated hitter against left-handed pitchers, and as a pinch hitter. He likely will make his first start against Viola.

Devereaux's drive

Although he won't come close to the career-high numbers he posted a year ago, Mike Devereaux has been a key run provider this season. With his first-inning sacrifice fly and third-inning home run last night, 27 of his 72 RBI have tied the score or given the Orioles the lead.

Devereaux took over the club lead in that department, followed by Cal Ripken (26), Harold Baines (19), Mark McLemore (18), David Segui (17), Brady Anderson (16) and Chris Hoiles (16).

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