Rhodes could face more surgery Tender shoulder may end reliever's season early

Orioles Notebook

August 06, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Reliever Arthur Rhodes has a shoulder condition that eventually may knock him out for the rest of the year, manager Davey Johnson said yesterday.

Rhodes, activated off the disabled list last Friday, pitched two-thirds of an inning that night. But when asked to warm up Sunday, Rhodes' shoulder was sore to the touch. Yesterday, Rhodes said he was OK and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. But in the ninth he allowed a homer to Kenny Lofton, a single by Jose Vizcaino and after one pitch to Mark Carreon, he was removed because of an apparent recurrence of his shoulder problem.

Before the game, Johnson said that as it was explained to him, Rhodes' condition will have to be monitored. But if he has another setback, Johnson said, he could be out the rest of the year and require shoulder surgery, as he did last September.

Johnson said he wanted Rhodes to pitch Sunday and curtail the damage in the eighth inning, when Cleveland turned a 3-2 game into a rout by scoring 11 runs against Roger McDowell and Keith Shepherd with two outs. Eventually, Johnson was forced to bring in closer Randy Myers to get the final out.

"It's embarrassing to me to have that happen," Johnson said, "and I know it's embarrassing to our fans and our ownership. It kills me -- I'm sitting here with my hands tied."

The Orioles are looking for pitching help, but acquiring a reliever or two is tough now that the trade deadline has passed. They talked earlier about the possibility of signing Jack Morris, and have talked about signing Kirk McCaskill.

"Whatever we do," said assistant general manager Kevin Malone, "we're looking for an upgrade over what we have. . . . I think our options are really limited."

Spreading it around

Bill Ripken played for the Indians last September and watched from the bench in the postseason. Although comparing the Indians of 1996 to the 1995 vintage that went 100-44 would be tough, Ripken said, he does notice Cleveland is using more players -- Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Giles, and others.

"They're getting more contributions from more people," he said, "and that should help them. They're not just throwing the same nine guys out there every day. If somebody goes down in the postseason, they can handle that."

Ripken says Julio Franco, currently sidelined by hamstring problems, is going to be a pivotal player for the Indians.

"If he can get healthy," Ripken said, "and stay that way through the postseason, he'll be a big plus for them. He's a big, big key. They're going to need him healthy in the playoffs."

Doing the waive

The Orioles should find out today whether outfielder Luis Polonia cleared waivers. The Oakland Athletics may have interest in claiming him. Infielder Jeff Huson may clear tomorrow. The Orioles designated both players for assignment last Friday and have 10 days to release or trade them if they're not claimed off waivers.

To make any trades in August, the Orioles would have to pass players through waivers as well.

Around the horn

Armando Benitez, coming back from elbow problems, threw fastballs, sliders, changeups and sinkers for 12 minutes off a mound yesterday, and Johnson says he may be ready the beginning of September. . . . Johnson was asked if the Orioles are still considering adding a pitching consultant, such as George Bamberger or Moe Drabowsky. "We've got [Mike] Flanagan and [Jim] Palmer here," said Johnson. "We think about everything trying to improve, but it generally comes down to execution and personnel." . . . Bill Ripken concurred with Johnson's assessment that Eddie Murray has lent a positive presence to the Orioles. "And on the selfish side," Ripken said, "I'd like to be in the same uniform when he hits his 500th." . . . The report on Jimmy Haynes' first start at Triple-A was so-so. He pitched well in spurts, Johnson said, and had control problems. . . . Mark Smith is eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow, but his left leg, bruised from a foul ball, hasn't improved to the point where he's ready to be activated. Smith just began taking batting practice and may be assigned to the minors for a rehabilitation assignment. "I'm running," Smith said, "but I'm running with a limp." . . . Malone's 39th birthday is today, and he requested the news be relayed through this medium. . . . Tonight the Orioles will face former Oriole Ben McDonald. So far this year, they are 0-4 against former Orioles, having lost to Jamie Moyer twice, McDonald and Bob Milacki once each. They did defeat former Orioles farmhand Bobby Chouinard.

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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