Elbow woes may sideline RHP Percibal for season Treatments not helping, prospect to see specialist

Orioles notebook

March 18, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Right-handed pitching prospect Billy Percibal said he may not throw again this year.

Percibal, 22, is one of Baltimore's top minor-league talents, but his recurring elbow problems have hampered him this spring. Percibal pitched just two innings, and has not thrown in about 10 days. He will fly to Alabama tomorrow to be examined by Dr. James Andrews, one of the leading specialists in the country.

"We're not sure why it's bothering him," said assistant general manager Kevin Malone. "He hasn't responded [to treatment]."

Percibal was placed on the disabled list last August with a sore right elbow and he underwent surgery in September to remove bone spurs. Percibal was 7-6 with a 3.23 ERA, sixth-best in the Single-A California League in 1995. He was assigned to Double-A Bowie last week, but remained in major-league camp so Baltimore's medical staff could continue to work with him.

"I'm very worried," Percibal said. "My elbow is not better. When I wake up in the morning, it doesn't bother me too much. But at night, when I go to sleep, it hurts bad. It gets worse."

Percibal said the treatments and exercises he's undergoing are not helping much.

"There is a chance that maybe I will throw no more this year," said Percibal, who was born and still lives in the Dominican Republic.

Ripken on a tear

Cal Ripken is rapidly approaching midseason form at the plate.

Ripken went 1-for-11 in his first five Grapefruit League games, but he's 7-for-11 with a home run in his past five. All eight of Ripken's RBIs are products of his recent tear, and yesterday he went 1-for-2 with his first double, a fifth-inning gapper that drove in two runs.

Ripken's batting average stands at .363 and climbing, and his eight RBIs are second on the team to Manny Alexander's 10.

Mills to be examined

Reliever Alan Mills also is going north to get his arm checked out. He is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and is experiencing pain in his lower shoulder blade muscles.

Mills will be in Baltimore today to get examined by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs, and he may receive a cortisone shot. Mills said he has had one such shot in his career and he did not throw for 10 days after receiving it.

"I know I'll have to rest for a few days," Mills said. "I can't rush back."

Hammonds: I'm not injured

Manager Davey Johnson said outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds has a strained stomach muscle. Hammonds, who has a lengthy history of nagging injuries, said he feels fine and denied being injured in any way. Hammonds has not played in three games, but Johnson said he expects to have him in the lineup today.

Palmer puts it in writing

Orioles Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer showed off his new book at Baltimore's spring training complex yesterday.

"Palmer and Weaver: Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine," will hit bookstores in early April. It details the often tumultuous relationship between the pitcher and his Hall of Fame manager, Earl Weaver.

Weaver did not attend the ceremonies yesterday, but he wasn't forgotten. A lifelike cutout of Palmer's favorite manager was present, complete with a towel tied tightly around its mouth.

"That's the perfect way to have Earl here," Palmer said. "We had a love-hate-and-win relationship. It was a very honest relationship. Earl never held grudges. I never would have made it to the Hall of Fame if not for Earl."

O's looking at Weathers

Looking for bullpen depth because of the soreness in Mills' shoulder, the Orioles have contacted the Florida Marlins about the availability of right-hander David Weathers, who went 4-5 with a 5.98 ERA last season.

Weathers appeared in 28 games in '95, starting 15, and allowed 104 hits and 52 walks in 90 innings.


The Orioles have been tracking the progress of Los Angeles Dodgers backup catcher Carlos Hernandez, and now that Tom Lasorda has decided to use Tom Prince as his primary backup, Hernandez is available. But he isn't much of a hitter, and some within the organization feel the Orioles would be just as well off going with Cesar Devarez as the No. 3 catcher. . . . Showing no effects from the hamstring injury that kept him out for a week, Mike Devereaux made a great diving catch and added a double off Pete Harnisch. . . . Joe Hall was terrific in the B game, going 2-for-3 with a home run and double. . . . The umpires were late for the 10: 30 a.m. game, so bench coach Andy Etchebarren put in some time calling balls and strikes.

Pub Date: 3/18/96

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