Benitez has Johnson 'really concerned' Elbow reinjury forces reliever to disabled list

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 21, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Armando Benitez, who reinjured his elbow in Friday night's game against the Texas Rangers, was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday. He flew back to Baltimore to have his elbow examined by team doctor Michael Jacobs.

"I'm really concerned about Armando," said manager Davey Johnson.

To replace Benitez, the Orioles called up reliever Brian Sackinsky, who came on in relief in the fifth inning last night.

After delivering a pitch to Texas first baseman Will Clark, Benitez dropped his glove to the mound, bent over at the waist and grabbed his elbow. He declined to talk to reporters after the game, other than confirming he was in pain.

Coming out of spring training, Benitez suffered from what the team referred to as a strained flexor muscle, which the pitcher thought was caused by throwing a split-fingered fastball at the end of camp.

Johnson said on April 9 that he was inclined to place Benitez on the disabled list. But after resting for several days, Benitez threw well in the bullpen, said he felt pain-free, and pitched against the Minnesota Twins four days later, reporting no trouble.

Now Benitez may be in trouble: Johnson said after Friday's game that Benitez is suffering from ulnar nerve problems, while the official diagnosis was a strained elbow.

Either way, the Orioles -- already thin in relief pitching in their organization -- may be without Benitez, who was being counted hTC on to carry a heavy share of the bullpen workload, for a long time. And now, the imminent return of Alan Mills from shoulder surgery has taken on added importance.

Morning wake-up call

Sackinsky was in Richmond, Va., with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings Friday night, and he watched various parts of the game on cable. Kent Mercker pitching in the early innings, Jimmy Myers walking a hitter, Manny Alexander finishing the game on the mound for the Orioles.

But he had no idea Benitez had gotten hurt until 6: 30 a.m. yesterday. That's when Red Wings manager Marv Foley called him with the news he was going to the bigs.

Sackinsky walked into Johnson's office here at about 3: 45 p.m. yesterday, and Johnson, desperate for pitching, shook his hand happily. "When did you pitch last?" Johnson asked. "Are you ready to go?"

Sackinsky was scheduled to start for Rochester today, so he was ready for extended duty last night. "This has been a dream of mine to get here," said Sackinsky, who has never pitched in the majors, "ever since I started playing."

The promotion of Sackinsky gives the Orioles three former Stanford students, along with Mike Mussina and Jeffrey Hammonds. "Maybe we ought to have a spelling bee against the Rangers," said Johnson.

Orosco isn't giving up

Jesse Orosco pitched poorly in spring training, and he's been getting hit hard since the season began. In Friday night's loss, he allowed six hits, two walks and eight runs in one-third of an inning.

"It's a long season," said Orosco, who turns 39 today. "As long as Davey and [pitching coach Pat] Dobson don't give up on me, I'll be all right. I haven't given up. I'll be all right."

. . . Orosco sat in the dugout Friday and watched Alexander walk across three runs, all charged against Orosco's earned run average. "I was so mad he gave up my runs," Orosco joked. "Actually, he had better control than I did."

. . . Mike Flanagan was the pitcher of record in 1978, when the Blue Jays beat the Orioles, 24-10 -- the most number of runs scored against the Orioles until Friday. "I have been erased," said Flanagan. "What I remember most about that was that it was the only time infield practice was canceled [in progress]. Cal [Ripken] Sr. came flying into the clubhouse, threw his fungo down. He had just walked off in the middle of infield. . . . From that moment on, I knew it was not going to be our night."

Around the horn

Today, Gerardo Sanchez, who plays for the Nuevo Laredo Owls, will appear in his 1,167th straight game, setting a Mexican League record. Cal Ripken, who last night played in his 2,169th straight game, sent Sanchez a letter of congratulations. . . . Luis Polonia, signed to an Orioles minor-league contract for $10,000 a month on Friday, will play with a $250,000 salary if promoted to the majors. . . . Former Oriole was promoted from Single-A to Triple-A in the Rangers' organization yesterday.

Pub Date: 4/21/96

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