Injuries temper run of success Hammonds to miss 4-6 weeks

McDowell may need full year

August 17, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Orioles' lopsided victory in the series opener Thursday was even more costly than originally thought. Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds was placed on the disabled list yesterday and will be lost for at least four weeks with a sprained left knee.

Hammonds was injured attempting to make a sliding catch in the seventh inning of Thursday's 18-5 victory. His leg snagged on the outfield grass and folded under him as he lunged unsuccessfully for a shallow fly ball in left. He had to be helped off the field and was scheduled to have an MRI yesterday.

The Orioles also announced that right-hander Roger McDowell was scheduled to undergo extensive surgery to tighten a loose shoulder capsule and repair frayed cartilage. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list and could need as much as a full year to recover.

The club recalled Nerio Rodriguez, the Single-A ERA leader at Frederick who pitched well in a spot start for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, to fill McDowell's place in the bullpen and called up Red Wings outfielder Brent Bowers to replace Hammonds.

"I kind of knew Roger was bad," manager Davey Johnson said of the 35-year-old right-hander. "He has been pitching for me a long time and I know he'll go out there even if he's 50 percent. If they have to do a lot of reconstruction, he could be out a year."

Hammonds, who underwent reconstructive surgery on his right knee before the 1995 season, faces the possibility of surgery on the left, but will be out four to six weeks even if the MRI shows no new ligament damage.

"I can't believe it," said teammate Mike Devereaux, who was not far from Hammonds when the injury occurred. "I was saying to myself before the game how great it was that Jeffrey was going to play his first full season without an injury and then that happens. I felt like I jinxed him."

Johnson had expressed concern before the game about the poor condition of the outfield at the Oakland Coliseum, which is pockmarked with divots from last week's Oakland Raiders exhibition game. There was no indication that Hammonds' injury was related to uneven turf, but there was suspicion, especially considering that the A's lost outfielder Jason Giambi to a knee injury after he stepped in a hole recently.

"I couldn't tell," said Devereaux, "but I thought it happened before he hit the ground."

Hammonds has never played a full season at the major-league level. He missed part of the 1993 season with a herniated disk in his neck, then lost time the next year with a concussion and a right knee strain. After the '94 season, he had a ligament %J transplanted into his right knee and was limited to 57 major-league games.

Johnson didn't hesitate to put Bowers right into the lineup yesterday, where he responded with a go-ahead two-run double in the first game of the doubleheader. Rodriguez also was impressive in his major-league debut, with 1 2/3 shutout innings in the nightcap.

"As Earl [Weaver] used to say, 'Don't give them to me if you don't want me to use them,' " he said.

Bowers was the second-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1989 June draft, but he never reached the major leagues with the Jays and signed with the Orioles as a six-year minor-league free agent last November.

He started the season at Double-A Bowie, where he hit .311 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 228 at-bats. He was batting .325 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 49 games for the Triple-A Red Wings.

Rodriguez was 8-7 with a 2.26 ERA and two saves for Frederick before he was called up to make an emergency start Sunday for Rochester. He worked eight innings and gave up just a run on four hits in the Triple-A start.

Pub Date: 8/17/96

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