Johnson fears Rhodes may have to rest shoulder Reliever experiences pain, takes first loss in Game 2

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 14, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Reliever Arthur Rhodes left the second game of yesterday's doubleheader with his first loss of the season. But he also left with something more significant -- shoulder pain.

Rhodes (9-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning in the first game and said he felt fine to pitch again in the nightcap. But Rhodes told manager Davey Johnson his shoulder was bothering him when he came off the field after his one inning of work in Game 2.

Rhodes had surgery on the shoulder last September to repair torn cartilage in a joint. Last Sunday, the day before the All-Star break, Rhodes had a shot of cortisone in the top of his left #F shoulder to treat some stiffness.

Johnson said he is concerned about Rhodes' availability.

"We're meeting with a doctor and it's a possibility we may have to shut him down," Johnson said.

Antilles prospect eyed

The Orioles are scouting talent the world over in an attempt to bolster their organizational depth -- a search that has taken them from Australia to the Caribbean.

According to league sources, the Orioles continue to closely monitor the progress of one such player; Diegomar Markwell, a 16-year-old left-hander from Curacao in the Netherland Antilles.

Markwell is an international free agent and is being pursued by Atlanta, Montreal, Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees, in addition to the Orioles. One baseball source said that Orioles general manager Pat Gillick has been in Curacao scouting Markwell, but club officials would not confirm this.

The Orioles already signed one international free agent this summer. John Stephens, a 16-year-old pitcher from Australia, recently signed for a $500,000 bonus and began play at rookie-level Sarasota.

Fighting off field, too

Anytime the Yankees and Orioles try to get together, they butt heads. Even off the field.

After Friday's rainout, the teams ran into an impasse over when ** to play the makeup game.

A day-night doubleheader was proposed, but, according to Orioles sources, the Yankees asked for $5,000 per person for every member of their traveling party -- 40 people in all -- plus a $50,000 donation to a charity. Typically, the 25 players are paid $2,000 extra for playing a day-night doubleheader, which increases the revenue generated by the home team but also allows fans who had tickets for the rainout to attend.

New York manager Joe Torre and general manager Bob Watson vehemently denied the "$5,000 for the traveling party" account, and one Yankees source said the players asked for $2,500 and a donation to charity.

Eventually, negotiations broke down at around 11 p.m. Friday, with the two sides agreeing to a traditional doubleheader.

Hoiles predicts hot streak

Slumping catcher Chris Hoiles said he is confident his play will improve in the second half.

Hoiles, who is hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs, isn't overjoyed with those stats, but his power numbers are on par with what he's done throughout his major-league career.

"I'm not saying I'm having a great season, but numbers can be deceiving," said Hoiles, who has averaged 19 homers and 53 RBIs. "I've always been a second-half player. That's the time when I usually get hot. Anybody can say I'm no good right now, but let's see what they have to say in September and October."

Hoiles has hit .283 after the All-Star break the last five years, compared with .256 before the break. However, he has hit 50 fewer homers in the second half.

Mercker's time is coming

Left-hander Kent Mercker entered the second game of the doubleheader in the sixth inning, his first appearance since starting June 18.

Johnson has let Mercker build up his arm strength by throwing and exercising his shoulder the last four weeks, but had not put him in a game.

Mercker's velocity has dropped through the course of the season, but last night he hit 88 mph on the radar gun in the scoreless 1 2/3 innings, an improvement over previous outings.

Johnson said he and pitching coach Pat Dobson have been very impressed with Mercker's progress lately.

"I was overthrowing, but that comes from adrenalin," Mercker said. "I felt like I was making my debut. For 26 days the only person I've thrown to is [bullpen coach] Elrod [Hendricks]. It felt good just to get back out there."

Around the horn

Cal Ripken's two-run homer in the second game gave him 1,324 RBIs for his career, moving him past Duke Snider into 49th place on the all-time list. . . . Roberto Alomar, limited to DH duty because of a sprained finger, went 4-for-9 in the doubleheader. . . . Rafael Palmeiro broke a 1-for-23 slump with a single in the first inning of Game 1.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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