Devo back, but not in second slot

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 28, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Center fielder Mike Devereaux, sidelined by a strained groin muscle he injured last Thursday breaking in on a fly ball, was happy to be back in the lineup, but less than delighted at being dropped from the second to the sixth spot in the batting order for the first time this season.

Devereaux tested his injury by running in the outfield before last night's game against the California Angels, the opener of a three-city, seven-game road trip for the Orioles.

"I don't feel a thing now, but it's totally impossible to get the exact game feeling in practice," Devereaux said. "I really don't think I'll have a problem running the bases."

Devereaux, batting .173 going into the game, had 18 strikeouts in 52 at-bats. Manager Johnny Oates moved Devereaux to sixth in the lineup and kept right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds in the No. 2 hole, where he has been since Devereaux's injury. Hammonds returned to the lineup after a one-game absence, though he still had a tender right knee and some swelling on the top of his left foot, the latter caused by a foul ball. Oates did not say the switch was permanent and pointed to Devereaux's lack of success against California's Chuck Finley.

"He's 7-for-43 against Finley with seven punchouts," said Oates, before Devereaux went 2-for-3 against the left-hander with a double and homer last night. "I remember hearing him say a couple of years ago Finley's not a guy he sees well. Plus I wanted to give him a chance to gradually get back in the swing of things."

Said Devereaux: "I guess I have to watch what I say from now on. I do like batting second. That's where I hit when I had my best year."

Sabo better but ailing

Third baseman Chris Sabo, discouraged to the point he recently talked about the possibility of an early retirement, had a more positive outlook yesterday, but was not in the lineup. Sabo has missed four of the past five games because of lower back troubles.

"It definitely feels better than it did," Sabo said. "I can play. I just can't play very well. I have a hard time leaning over for grounders and taking good swings.

"It feels good during batting practice when I'm warmed up. It's just hard to stay warm during the game. Once it's not warm, it's very uncomfortable. I do everything I can to keep it warm. I'm up jogging to and from the dugout, but it's hard."

Leo Gomez, who is 7-for-20 with two home runs and seven RBIs against Finley, started for Sabo.

Baines improving

Harold Baines, out with a strained groin muscle, wasted no time in reporting his status.

Said Baines: "Am I ready? No, sir. Am I getting close? Yes, sir. What day will I be back in the lineup? I can't tell you, sir. Did I save you some paper?" Yes, sir.

Edmonds has concussion

Jim Edmonds, the Angels outfielder struck in the neck by an infielder's throw in Tuesday's game against the New York Yankees, was diagnosed with a slight concussion and was not in uniform for last night's game. He will not be in uniform until given medical clearance.

Ripken takes a seat

Oates put Tim Hulett in at shortstop for the ninth inning, the first inning Cal Ripken has missed this season. His consecutive-game streak hit 1,917, which is 213 short of Lou Gehrig's record.

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