Coppinger blames mechanics for his poor outing Dobson )) spots alteration in rookie's arm motion

Orioles Notebook

August 24, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Rocky Coppinger struggled in his start against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night, but the reason is no mystery.

The rookie right-hander, who gave up a career-high eight runs to the Mariners in 4 1/3 innings, said he had mechanical problems with his delivery. He said he altered his arm motion and was throwing across his body. Pitching coach Pat Dobson was the one who picked out the flaw and has talked with Coppinger about it.

"It felt a lot different," Coppinger said. "I was missing something. I probably just got into bad habits. I just started doing it as the game went on. But I feel good. I feel strong. It was good for me to get on the four-man [pitching rotation]. My arm feels stronger from the extra work. Physically, I feel strong."

Dobson said he has no worries about Coppinger and said the flaw will be worked out well before his next start.

"He's fine," Dobson said. "His delivery is messed up. He's throwing across his body, but we'll get that worked out [today] when he throws on the side. He just started doing it [Thursday]. It won't be hard to work out."

Parent a possibility

If the Orioles are looking for a backup catcher, there's one available, and he's a player who has worn an Orioles uniform before.

Catcher Mark Parent, who played in Baltimore in 1992-1993, was placed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers and a league source said the Orioles may be interested in claiming him.

The Orioles have sought to improve their depth at catcher all season, and the situation was intensified by the trade of catcher Gregg Zaun to the Florida Marlins this week. Cesar Devarez, the current backup, has almost no big-league experience, and B. J. Waszgis is in his first year at Triple-A.

If the Orioles claim Parent, they would have to pick up approximately $100,000 of his $500,000 salary. However, if Parent clears waivers on Monday and the Orioles sign him, they would have to pay him only about $20,000 for the rest of this season.

The Orioles and Tigers had discussions previously this year and Parent had made it clear he would like to play in Baltimore.

Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone would not comment on Parent and said it is the team's policy not to discuss waivers.

Parent batted .240 in 104 at-bats for the Tigers, with seven homers and 17 RBIs.

Lasorda a Murray fan

Tom Lasorda is no longer in the dugout every night, which gives him plenty of time to follow the exploits of Eddie Murray, a favorite former player of his.

Lasorda recently retired as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has more time to watch Murray's pursuit of 500 homers. Lasorda said he always respected Murray, who is two homers shy of the plateau, for his play and the way he treated other people.

He said Murray is perhaps the best player he has ever managed, and that Murray is one of the best people to ever play for him.

"If you want to know what a player is like, talk to the clubhouse kids," Lasorda said. "I did it all the time, and I have yet to hear a clubhouse kid or a ballplayer say one bad word about Eddie Murray, and that's the greatest compliment to him.

"Our clubhouse guys still call him. I always checked with them on the character of a ballplayer. Some don't mess with them. Eddie Murray always had time to give them something or bring them something. He would stop at a restaurant before the game and bring them food. That's rare. Very rare."

Tarasco could be back

Tony Tarasco continues to make strides toward a possible September call-up.

Tarasco had shoulder surgery in June that appeared to be

season-ending at the time, but he is headed to Single-A Frederick today. He had two hits in rookie ball yesterday and got a hit in his first appearance with Sarasota on Thursday.

Syd Thrift, the Orioles' director of player development, said Tarasco has dropped from 240 pounds to 214 and the outfielder has looked impressive in Florida.

"He looks really good," Thrift said. "I'll let him hit in Frederick and see how he does there. I don't want him to push his arm, and he doesn't want to push it, either. He's really showed me something with his weight and his conditioning."

Thrift said he met with Tarasco, who began the year with the Orioles but later was sent to Triple-A Rochester, in Sarasota at the start of his rehab and they both agreed on what it would take to make the outfielder a regular major-leaguer.

"He's done a tremendous job with his rehab," Thrift said. "He's worked real hard down there."

Progress slow for Smith

Outfielder Mark Smith played for the first time in a month Thursday night, hitting a home run in three at-bats as the designated hitter for Double-A Bowie. Smith had been sidelined for a month since fouling a ball off his leg while with the Orioles.

Yesterday, he met again with his doctor to determine if there is any way to speed up the process and get him back to the major leagues.

"I've got to do something about this," Smith said.

"It only hurts when I run. Any other time, it's fine. I've got to do something to help the limp. Hopefully, the doctor can find something to speed up my progress. Maybe he'll find something new I can try -- some new treatment or something."

Smith was recalled from Rochester twice this year, most recently in July, when Jeffrey Hammonds was demoted. Smith was just getting hot when he hurt his leg.

Smith was on a 7-for-13 tear in the five games before he was hurt. He had his fourth two-hit game of the year on July 22, the night of the injury.

Fame game

Cal Ripken Sr., Bill Hunter and Jerry Hoffberger will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame before tomorrow's game.

Pub Date: 8/24/96

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