Alomar's ankle injury doesn't appear serious Infielder will be slowed for 10-14 days, says agent

Orioles notebook

February 15, 1997|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar sprained his left ankle in Puerto Rico, but X-rays proved negative and his injury is not considered serious.

Tony Cabral, who represents the second baseman, said that Alomar was walking back from a beach when the accident occurred. Wearing sandals, Alomar was going up a short flight of steps when he slipped in some water and flipped. "He caught himself," said Cabral, "and he rolled his ankle."

Cabral says Alomar aggravated his injury playing basketball Wednesday. Alomar thought the injury was serious, and he went to a local hospital for X-rays. But no breaks were found, and though Alomar is on crutches, Cabral said, he's feeling much better. "I don't think this is a situation where he's going to miss much time at all," said Cabral, who estimated that Alomar could be slowed 10-14 days.

Orioles general manager Pat Gillick said, "I don't think it's bad."

Alomar, Cabral said, has been getting treatment on his ankle, and he's expected to fly here either tomorrow night or Monday morning.

Miller a hit with Boskie

New pitching coach Ray Miller preaches the importance of working fast, throwing strikes and keeping the ball down in the strike zone. New Orioles pitcher Shawn Boskie has a penchant for working slowly, not throwing enough strikes and giving up lots of fly balls and home runs.

There are lessons to be learned here. Boskie, likely to open the season as the No. 5 starter, sat for more than an hour with Miller on Thursday to discuss pitching, and Boskie came away believing Miller could be an immense help.

"I'm excited to talk about some of the things he was talking about," said Boskie, "pitch selection, that sort of thing."

Boskie's eyebrows arched when he was told Miller's teams in Pittsburgh consistently generated a high ratio of ground balls. "I'd love to see that translate into more ground balls for me," said Boskie, who gave up a major-league high 40 homers for California last year.

Boskie paused and smiled. "If I get more ground balls than fly balls, then I'll give credit directly to Ray, because I've been fighting that [problem]."

Modest expectations

In this, the first year of interleague play, the Orioles' pitching staff will work on hitting.

But not much. The Orioles will play six games in NL cities this year, three games in Atlanta and three in Florida. "I don't think we should spend a whole lot of time getting them ready," said hitting coach Rick Down. "Bunting is going to be the primary concern, getting them to move runners 90 feet and get them in scoring position."

Down ventured a guess that Jimmy Key might be the Orioles' best-hitting pitcher. Key was a designated hitter when he wasn't pitching at Clemson. "I usually hit first or third," said Key.

Mike Mussina was a good hitter in high school -- "Who wasn't?" he once joked -- and Boskie had a respectable .184 batting average while playing in the NL.

But Down isn't expecting much, in spite of the inevitable mild bragging. "You know how it goes," Down said "Pitchers think they can hit and hitters think they can pitch."

Around the horn

Brady Anderson bats left-handed, as do Rafael Palmeiro and B. J. Surhoff, and Alomar is a switch-hitter who is better from the the left side. Opposing managers undoubtedly will employ as many left-handed relievers and starters to combat this lineup. So there will be pressure on the Orioles' top right-handed hitters, Eric Davis, Pete Incaviglia and Cal Ripken, to produce and protect the left-handed hitters. Their success, Down said, "is going to be a big part of what this club does or doesn't do." The ranks of those Orioles working out early swelled to about two dozen yesterday, including Mussina, Key, Chris Hoiles, Mike Bordick, Scott Erickson and Alan Mills. One member of the Orioles' pitching staff reported yesterday that the mound at Camden Yards was raised two to four inches sometime around the All-Star break last year. If that's true, the adjustment didn't help much: The Orioles had a 5.10 ERA before the All-Star break, 5.10 afterward. Nonroster pitchers Brian Williams and Carrara must excel to make the Orioles' deep staff, but even if they don't, they have another option -- the Orioles have agreed to let both players sign elsewhere if another major-league team expresses interest.

Spring break

What the Orioles did yesterday: About two dozen players worked out on their own, in groups of two and three. Mike Mussina played catch with Archie Corbin and Chris Hoiles, and new shortstop Mike Bordick took batting practice with nonroster invitee Jeff Reboulet. Meanwhile, Orioles general manager Pat Gillick, assistant GM Kevin Malone and farm director Syd Thrift met with manager Davey Johnson and the coaching staff for more than five hours, discussing the team and spring schedule.

What they're doing today: Pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals, and then go through their first official workout of throwing and infield fundamentals.

You know it's spring training when: Ex-rivals become teammates. Pitcher Jimmy Key shook hands with Alan Mills and Shawn Boskie. Pete Incaviglia, a friendly sort, laughed and joked with Bordick. Key learned of Mills' extraordinary dressing habits when Mills walked into the clubhouse wearing a tie and a sparkling white shirt. "How come he's dressed up?" Key said.

Pub Date: 2/15/97

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