Orioles are hurting as battle of birds begins Injuries give two-time champion Blue Jays edge in pecking order

May 09, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Physically speaking, this is not the best time for the Orioles to be playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Manager Johnny Oates could rTC have as many as four position players questionable for tonight's opener of a three-game series against the two-time defending World Series champions.

Outfielders Mike Devereaux and Jeffrey Hammonds, third baseman Chris Sabo and designated hitter Harold Baines were all sidelined either before or during yesterday's 8-6 win over the Cleveland Indians. It's possible that none of the four will be available for tonight's left-handed matchup between Sid Fernandez (1-0, 2.16) and Al Leiter (2-1, 4.23).

Devereaux escaped serious injury yesterday despite being hit in the left cheek by a pitch from Cleveland right-hander Chad Ogea. The center fielder, who had hit his seventh homer of the season and a triple to drive in four runs in his first two at-bats, was treated at University Hospital and had considerable swelling, but X-rays revealed no fracture.

He isn't expected to play tonight. Sabo, suffering from recurring back spasms, was due to undergo tests today in an effort to

diagnose his problem.

With Baines (broken toenail) not scheduled to face Leiter, Hammonds probably has the best chance of the injured foursome to be in tonight's starting lineup. But he still is feeling the effects of a slight concussion suffered 10 days ago, and a decision won't be made until game time.

Baines left yesterday's game after fouling a ball off his foot, but is expected to be ready to pinch-hit tonight if necessary.

Although they have lost seven of their past 11, the Blue Jays bring a modest two-game winning streak into tonight's game. Their 17-14 record has them in fourth place in the AL East, 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles (18-10), who trail the division-leading Boston Red Sox by one game and the second place Yankees by a half-game.

The series against the Blue Jays will be only the second against an Eastern Division opponent for the Orioles, who took two of three from the Tigers in Detroit during the second week of the season.

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