Rib pain probably will sideline Fernandez

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 23, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer Staff writer Lori Van Lonkhuyzen contributed to this article.

More bad news on the Orioles' starting rotation front.

Left-hander Sid Fernandez is suffering from a possible muscle strain in the rib-cage area and is doubtful for his scheduled start tomorrow night in Toronto.

"He probably will not pitch, but we're not sure what it is," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "It might be a slight rib-cage strain."

Fernandez feels pain in his right side and said he thinks he might have sustained the injury during his last start.

A series of tests run on Fernandez ruled out any problems in the areas of the appendix, spleen, kidney or gallbladder, Oates said.

"The doctors talked with him yesterday and they didn't seem to think it was too bad, but Sid's in a lot of pain, so I don't know if he'll be able to start," Oates said.

If Fernandez is not ready to start, Mike Oquist will, Oates said.

Oquist would have been used during last night's 9-2 loss to Milwaukee if Mark Williamson had not been

able to last so long.

Ripken's elbow, streak OK

For those interested in baseball history, Cal's streak is alive and well.

Third baseman Cal Sutphin of Ellicott City is the only person to participate in all nine Orioles Fantasy Camps. He was among the campers honored before last night's game.

Or was it the other Cal's streak Orioles fans were wondering about after watching Milwaukee's Bob Scanlan hit Cal Ripken just above the left elbow with a pitch in Tuesday night's game?

That streak endures as well, of course. The count stands at 1,966 down, 164 to go.

That's how many more games the Orioles shortstop needs to tie Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record.

No strike and no severe injuries would make late June 1994 the record-breaking time period.

Ripken's left elbow was red and swollen yesterday, but his playing status never was in jeopardy.

"Minor swelling and everything is fine," said Ripken, who sat out the last two innings last night (the sixth and seventh he's missed all season). "The day will go on."

It always does.

Ripken has played through far worse aches and pains during a streak that started May 30, 1982. More than 3,000 major-league players have gone on the disabled list during that time.

Dusting off the fishing rod

Lee Smith, baseball's all-time saves king, knows what he will do if the players go on strike. "I'm going home and going fishing," Smith said. "I'll be a lot better off than I was during the strike in '81."

Smith, who still resides in Castor, La., said he had gotten a pay advance from the Chicago Cubs in order to pay the three months' rent required in advance of occupying his apartment.

"My last check had only 86 bucks on it," Smith said. "I had to go back to the job I had before baseball. I was driving a dump truck for the city and playing first base for the softball team, making 30 bucks a game.

"That's a helluva jump, from the big leagues to dumping dirt."

Smith, a five-time National League All-Star, no doubt will be selected to represent the American League this time.

"I don't need to go," Smith said. "But I'm not going to get picked and not show up. I think that's weak. If I do go, I'd like to pitch and I'd like to be on the winning side."

Smith has been selected three seasons in a row, but has not pitched in the game since 1987, when he earned the victory with three shutout innings. The National League has not won the game since.

Around the horn

The Brewers' Alex Diaz became the third player in five days to hit his first home run of the year at Camden Yards, joining Minnesota's Derek Parks and Pat Meares. . . . Last night's game lasted just 2:38 -- the shortest home game of the year. . . . Celebrity watch: Maryland football coach Mark Duffner was in the crowd. . . . The Orioles fell four runs short of their record for runs allowed in an inning with eight last night. The record of 12 was set Aug. 10, 1965, at Fenway Park.

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