Hammonds sturdy, but not sharp

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 27, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Rookie outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, playing with a large knee brace while recovering from a strained medial collateral ligament, hasn't regained pre-injury form, but has held up well enough to play every day since he returned to the lineup June 17.

He is 5-for-28 (.179) in his first nine games after spending six weeks on the disabled list.

"Do I feel sharp? No," Hammonds said. "Do I have an idea of what I'm doing? Yes. I didn't expect to jump back in there and hit the ball like I was before going on the DL [.326]. But am I feeling overmatched? No."

Hammonds said he has not let the knee brace change his approach.

"I've dove, I've slid, I've run and nothing bad has happened to me or the brace," Hammonds said. "I can't afford to think about it. I did that the first couple of days. I'm just going to wear it until it comes off. I haven't brought it up as an issue because I know it's still needed."

Why is it needed? His knee is not 100 percent.

"I can still feel it when I make certain moves," he said. "A cut here or a pop there. I feel it at different times. It feels different. It doesn't feel bad, but it doesn't feel good."

Road warriors

The Orioles have what is easily the best road record in the American League (22-12), but are only a .500 team at Camden Yards.

"I don't know if we really have a home-field advantage," manager Johnny Oates said. "Our place is so nice, it's such a comfortable place to come in and play. You hear players say they like to come in and play at our place. They look forward to playing there."

World Cup viewers

Sometimes, no matter what is on a television, people will watch. For example, many Americans bored by soccer still are tuning in to World Cup coverage.

And even talking about it.

The soccer ball is juiced, suggested someone who noticed a country had scored two goals in a game.

"The ball's not juiced," Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. "The players are just stronger."

Orioles closer Lee Smith walked by and noticed a World Cup game on the clubhouse television.

"Somebody make sure and tape that for me so I can watch it after I'm done working tonight," Smith said.

M&M 20/20

Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald both are on a pace to win more than 20 games, but McDonald has slumped of late. McDonald was 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA in April; 3-3, 5.40 in May; 2-2, 7.03 in June.

"His location hasn't been very good, his curveball has been inconsistent and his forkball has not been present too often," pitching coach Dick Bosman said. "Everybody goes into slumps, right?"

McDonald was the quickest pitcher in Orioles history to five wins (20th game of the season), six wins (25), seven (28) and eight (41).

Devereaux runs, hits

Mike Devereaux tested his pulled hamstring muscle running for the first time before last night's game, but did not reach any conclusions as to whether he will be ready to come off the disabled list Friday, when he becomes eligible for the first time.

"I didn't run to the point of pain because I didn't want to reinjure it," Devereaux said. "It's too early to tell how soon I'll be back."

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