Ripken sits one out after slip, 'twang' in left groin muscle Myers debuts in ninth

Orioles notebook

Davis goes deep again

March 04, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Cal Ripken was a late scratch from yesterday's game because of a left groin strain, which occurred while he was backhanding grounders.

"I went to lunge out for one, my foot slipped a little bit on some loose dirt and it kind of gave me a little twang," Ripken said. "I would suspect it's pretty minor. I took infield, and if I had to play, I could, but there's no sense taking the risk of making a smaller injury into a bigger one."

As Ripken spoke to reporters near his locker, Brady Anderson walked by and joked, "Why don't you suck it up and learn to play with pain one time?" -- a comment that landed him a fist in the chest from a smiling Ripken.

Ripken will have some extra time to heal because he wasn't scheduled to make the trip to Vero Beach for today's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Manager Davey Johnson told reporters the injury wasn't a big deal, then corrected himself. "Everything with Cal is a big deal. I've learned that. You guys taught me that."

Ripken said he hadn't scratched himself from a game since the Orioles' spring training home was in Miami during the 1980s.

Willis Otanez started in Ripken's place and went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the Orioles' 16-2 pounding of the Atlanta Braves.

Early exit miffs Matos

The Orioles made their first cuts of the spring yesterday, assigning infielders Francisco Matos, Augie Ojeda and Drew Denson to their minor-league camp in Sarasota and optioning infielder Juan Bautista to Triple-A Rochester. The number of players in the major-league camp has been reduced to 57, with some pitchers expected to be cut tomorrow.

Matos was 2-for-2 in regular exhibition games, and 3-for-6 with two walks and two runs scored in B and intrasquad games. He spent the past three seasons in Triple-A, in the Montreal, Pittsburgh and Oakland organizations, and doesn't look forward to a fourth.

"Sooner or later, I was expecting it because they've got too many players, but not that soon," he said, sitting in front of his locker in street clothes. "I'm disappointed. I did my job, I just didn't have the opportunity. They already know what players they're going to keep right away. I'm in a situation where I consider myself a veteran player. I'm not like 20 or 19; they just come to camp and to get one at-bat is fine."

Matos, 27, whose big-league career consisted of 14 games with Oakland in 1994 before the strike, said he'll try to have a good year, then "hopefully I can get out of here. I think it's time for me to go to a different country and try to make some money."

Ojeda, who didn't have a hit in three spring at-bats, was a stark contrast to Matos yesterday, still in uniform and sounding upbeat. A 22-year-old shortstop in his first professional camp, he saw the early demotion coming.

"I'm not really surprised. I kind of figured I'd be one of the first guys to get sent down," he said. "To me, it was a plus just being here with the guys, just knowing what it's like to be in the big leagues, the competition and playing with Cal [Ripken], looking at the things he does before the games, the way he goes about his business. It's a plus for me."

Ojeda, 5 feet 9, was chosen in the 13th round of the June draft. An All-Southeastern Conference selection at Tennessee, he played two years for Team USA.

Denson hasn't played this spring because of a strained right calf. Bautista was hitless in two at-bats.

Look out, Lenny!

Lenny Webster had his left eye treated after being hit by a throw from Ryan Luzinski before yesterday's game. The two catchers were playing long toss when Webster became distracted for an instant and turned his head. By the time he looked back at Luzinski, it was too late.

"I thought somebody sucker-punched me," said Webster, who had a mouse under his eye. "There's some tissue swelling and maybe a bruised nasal cavity. But I'll be out there in the morning."

Webster, known more for his defensive work, is batting .600 this spring.

Myers makes smooth debut

Closer Randy Myers made his first appearance yesterday, throwing a scoreless ninth inning. He walked Fred McGriff before retiring the next three batters, including a strikeout.

The numbers meant nothing to Myers. "I'm preparing for Opening Day," he said. "That's what this thing is about, just getting work in. Whatever the outcome is doesn't mean nothing."

Myers said he hasn't spoken to Johnson about how the manager will use him. "I think Davey's got other things to worry about right now with 29 pitchers in camp," he said.

A Key-Maddux renewal

Orioles starter Jimmy Key had a case of deja vu yesterday when he faced Atlanta's Greg Maddux. They squared off in the decisive sixth game of last year's World Series, when Key was a member of the New York Yankees.

Key picked up another win yesterday, though not quite of the same magnitude. He gave up a leadoff home run to Marquis Grissom, then allowed one more hit and struck out two in two innings. Twenty of his 29 pitches were strikes, and the left-hander even threw in the bullpen afterward.

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