Crunch time for Haynes, Hammonds Without production, Rochester is beckoning


June 15, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The ups and downs of Jimmy Haynes have been precipitous -- mostly, his downs. Jeffrey Hammonds' fall from the lineup has been slow and gradual, Orioles manager Davey Johnson removing him from full-time duty after a two-month trial.

But while their paths have been different, Haynes, a rookie pitcher, and Hammonds, an outfielder, find themselves in about the same predicament. Both are trying to fight their way back into more time on the field, and both may be running out of time. The Orioles could send Hammonds and Haynes to Triple-A Rochester to get regular playing time.

Haynes allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings in relief Thursday night, his ERA climbing to 8.07. Hammonds has started only one of the team's last five games, and he has one homer since May 10, with five RBI in his last 21 games.

Haynes appeared to be making progress, allowing two hits in eight innings against Milwaukee May 10 and two runs in five innings against Seattle on May 17.

But most frustrating game of his season, Haynes said yesterday, the one in which he really thought he took a step backward, then came against the Angels May 22. He allowed one run over the first six innings, then gave up four before being lifted in the seventh.

"I kind of went off track of what I was trying to do," Haynes said, "and since then, it's kind of snow-balled."

Haynes' already high ERA has climbed by almost a full run since then, and he's having trouble with his mechanics again.

Pitching coach Pat Dobson is trying to end his habit of falling into a semi-squat early in his delivery, something that diminishes his fastball. Haynes felt that, in Thursday's game, there were times when he was more upright in his delivery. "I had my best fastball," Haynes said, "at times."

But at other times he couldn't correct his delivery trouble, and now Haynes finds himself preoccupied with his mechanics. "I'm just trying to get to the point where I'm not thinking about them on the mound and getting all mixed up," Haynes said. "I've just got to wipe that out of my mind.

"It's frustrating, knowing I have [the stuff], but not performing at that level."

Scouts say Hammonds is having trouble with breaking balls down and away. Hammonds said he's trying to improve "on everything. Because I'm not a .240 hitter. I'm not hitting the mistakes.

"I'm going to stay positive. I'm not hurt. I'm just doing what every young player should, just trying to get better. I can't get mad at anybody. It's still early, so I can't be negative."

Pub Date: 6/15/96

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