Optimistic Oates refuses to count out Fernandez

March 18, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

ST.PETERSBURG, FLA — ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manager Johnny Oates is clinging to the hope that Sid Fernandez will make a quick return, but it appears more and more as if the Orioles new left-hander will start the season on the disabled list.

Fernandez returned here yesterday from Baltimore, where he underwent a CT scan and an arthrogram. The diagnosis was a case of shoulder bursitis. The prescribed treatment is two weeks of rest, along with a strength rehabilitation program.

"I don't have any idea when he's going to throw," Oates said. "I don't know enough now. I don't know how bad it is."

When asked if Fernandez's injury meant he would be sidelined at least until April 17, the first time the Orioles will need a fifth starting pitcher, Oates refused to set a timetable.

"We're just going to have to be patient and wait awhile," he said. "He says he's pitched through this before. But I have no idea time-wise. We'll take it day by day."

Fernandez had little to say about the spring setback that almost certainly will cost him at least two starts. "I'm just going to stick to what Roland [Hemond] said," he said when asked about his condition.

Asked if it was similar to shoulder pain he's experienced in past springs, Fernandez said: "I guess." He added that he wasn't worried about the injury and that "it doesn't hurt."

Fernandez was given an injection to relieve any discomfort. Trainer Richie Bancells said the normal procedure after an injection is three days of total inactivity, followed by a rehabilitation program.

Although aware of the preliminary report, pitching coach Dick Bosman continued to express the belief that Fernandez's injury would not prove to be serious. "He is optimistic," said Bosman. "He doesn't think it's going to be a long, drawn-out process."

Fernandez's spring debut with the Orioles was pushed back two days last week, when he was bothered by what was described as a mild case of tendinitis. He pitched two ineffective innings against the New York Yankees a week ago last night, but said he felt good.

But Tuesday, after pitching two-thirds of an inning against the Cardinals, Fernandez left the game in obvious pain. He subsequently returned to Baltimore for the examination by orthopedic specialists Dr. Michael Jacobs and Dr. Charles Silberstein.

While Oates and Bosman, at least initially, seemed reluctant to rule out a quick return, Hemond was emphatic that Fernandez would not be ready to pitch when the season begins two weeks from Monday. "Right now, all the doctors are saying is let's re-evaluate in two weeks," said the Orioles general manager.

RTC When he was asked what he thought was the earliest date Fernandez could be ready to pitch, Hemond said: "Maybe the third week in April -- about the time we start playing on a regular basis."

Meanwhile, Hemond said the injury had not intensified trade talks. "Nobody called today because of what they read in the paper," he said.

"We're in the same situation we've been in -- we're staying in touch with our scouts in Arizona and Florida to try and get an idea of what teams are thinking about doing."

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