Hammonds plays waiting game

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

May 31, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

Orioles right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds expects to have an answer tomorrow as to when his ailing right knee might be ready for play.

Hammonds, who has missed all of May with a concussion and then a strain of the medial collateral ligament in his knee, is to be examined tomorrow by team orthopedist Michael Jacobs.

"It's up to Dr. Jacobs. My fate lies in his hands," said Hammonds. "I can handle that [sitting]. All I can do is hear what he has to say, then go from there."

The rookie outfielder, who was placed on the disabled list May 10, had hoped to rejoin the team for last week's series in New York, but the knee swelled slightly after he ran on it.

Hammonds said there has been no discussion about surgery. He has received a lightweight brace to wear now and when he resumes playing.

"If I need to wear it to get out there, so be it," said Hammonds. "I'm preparing myself that I'm going to have it. If I come out there without a brace, some miracle would have happened."

McDonald out for Thursday

The Orioles have "undecided" as their listed starting pitcher for Thursday afternoon's game with the Detroit Tigers, but it's nearly certain that it won't be Ben McDonald.

McDonald, who suffered a strained right groin in a May 23rd start in Milwaukee and then aggravated it in his start Saturday night in Chicago, seemed resigned yesterday to missing his next scheduled turn.

"If you pop this thing good, you're going to be out two months," said McDonald, who has made 80 starts in a row. "It's great that I haven't missed a start in two years, but we are not going to win a pennant right now. We'll win it in September."

And if there was any doubt, manager Johnny Oates virtually eliminated it yesterday.

"It's as sure as it can be without being sure," said Oates. "I'm not planning on him starting Thursday."

McDonald said he had done some of his usual leg exercises, including riding a stationary bike and felt better than he had after Saturday's start in Chicago, but couldn't gauge his progress.

"I've never had this before. I don't know what to expect. I can't compare this to anything I've had in the past," said McDonald.

Oates ticked off the names of a series of pitchers at both Double-A and Triple-A who could be called up for Thursday. Included on his list was Arthur Rhodes, who was sent down after a poor outing in New York May 21.

Settling down Sabo

Oates said he did not take umbrage at recent published comments from third baseman Chris Sabo, criticizing his lack of playing time while Leo Gomez is in the midst of a hot streak.

"Right now Leo's playing well and he deserves to be in the lineup," said Oates. "Chris Sabo is an important part of this ballclub. I'm not going to bury him. He's a quality veteran player that we're going to need before the end of the summer."

Sabo's recent outbursts have given Oates an opportunity to be philosophical about player angst over not seeing their names in the lineup.

"I'll work with Sabo on his frustration. Before the end of the year, he'll help us win ballgames," said Oates. "I've had those feelings too when I was a player.

"Every guy handles it differently. They have a different makeup and frustration level. Leo's playing well enough to keep playing and Sabo's too good to discard. So I'm going to have my cake and eat it too."

Attendance count

With last night's regular-season record crowd of 47,851, the Orioles passed the 1 million mark in attendance in 22 dates, the fastest they have reached that milestone in club history. The season's total now stands at 1,029,266.

A close shave

Pitcher Sid Fernandez, who got the win Sunday in Chicago, apparently tried to trim his mustache, but took too much off on one side, and eventually shaved the whole thing off.

"I've heard of guys shaving it when they lost, but never when they won," said Oates, who quickly added, "I guarantee he's left-handed."

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