Up, down kind of day for 2 Orioles

SIDELIGHT

May 22, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Judging by his three days of activity in Florida, Chris Sabo was ready to return to the active list.

And after lasting just 41 pitches yesterday, Arthur Rhodes re-emphasized his need for fine-tuning.

The Orioles wasted no time making those moves official after yesterday's 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees. After the shortest outing of his career -- one inning -- Rhodes was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. He gave up five runs on four hits and two walks as his ERA ballooned to 9.00.

Sabo, who had been rehabilitating at the Orioles' extended minor-league spring training camp in Sarasota, was reactivated from the disabled list and will rejoin the club for today's game. He played three games during his brief stay in Florida and went 8-for-11, with two doubles, two walks and a sacrifice fly.

Orioles manager Johnny Oates spoke with Sabo yesterday and was assured that the third baseman has had not problems with the back spasms that put him on the DL. However, when asked if Sabo would be in the starting lineup today, the manager said: "Probably not."

Oates was hardly as noncommittal in expressing his feelings about Rhodes, the talented but erratic left-hander whose biggest struggle is trying to fulfill his potential.

"He's got to pitch every fifth day," said Oates. "I told him he had to go out and get some innings. He needs to go out and pitch.

"Somebody told me the other day that [Mike] Mussina has pitched more at Triple-A than Rhodes," said Oates. That somebody was right: Before joining the Orioles for the last two months of the 1991 season, Mussina had logged 135 2/3 innings in 21 starts at Rochester in 1990-91.

Rhodes, who first came to the big leagues from Double-A Hagerstown three years ago, made 17 starts and pitched 101 2/3 innings at Rochester before being recalled in 1992, when he went 7-5 with the Orioles. A year ago he made six more starts at Triple-A on a rehabilitation assignment following arthroscopic knee surgery, pitching 26 2/3 innings.

After yesterday's game, his fourth loss in five decisions, Rhodes left the clubhouse almost immediately after getting the news of his demotion. "I don't have any comment," was all he had to say.

Just a few lockers away from Rhodes was Mike Oquist, the 25-year-old right-hander who will replace him as the No. 5 starter. "I've already told him he'll start the game [against Detroit] May 31," said Oates. "He deserves it."

Oquist relieved Rhodes in the second inning yesterday and proceeded to blank the Yankees on five hits the rest of the way. It was his second straight scoreless relief outing, spanning 12 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees.

The news that he'd been promoted to the starting rotation hadn't yet made an impression on Oquist, but he did acknowledge empathy for Rhodes. "I've played with Art all the way up," he said.

"It's a tough situation, but Art is a strong enough guy and a good enough pitcher. He'll be back."

As for his own situation, Oquist was calm, at least for the moment. He was originally scheduled to start against Cleveland on May 7, but the game was rained out, and his status remained uncertain until yesterday.

"I'm looking forward to it, but it's still a way off," he said. "That's 10 days away, and I might have to pitch again [in relief] before that. I'm sure as it gets closer, it'll sink in."

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