Weather idles Alomar, perhaps into weekend Ankle, 'hip pointer' reduce his availability

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 17, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- Brutally cold temperatures and a slow-healing left ankle kept Roberto Alomar out of last night's lineup and, according to Orioles manager Davey Johnson, may inhibit the All-Star second baseman's play into the weekend.

While describing Alomar's condition as day-to-day, Johnson said that the weather on this six-game trip will have much to do with his availability. Since returning from his five-game suspension, Alomar has been slowed by a left ankle sprain that has resisted treatment.

By favoring the ankle, Alomar has compounded the condition by VTC sustaining what Johnson called a "hip pointer." Alomar has described the injury as a sore groin.

"If I had to win this game, he could play," said Johnson, who allowed that Alomar's first step has been affected by the injury. ,, "But I don't. So I'm not going to push him. But do I want to just put him on the DL? No. I like having him available to pinch hit. That's a pretty good weapon sitting on the bench."

Alomar last played Monday night but was removed after seven innings. Jeff Reboulet, who homered in Tuesday night's 3-1 win over Minnesota, started his second straight game in place of Alomar.

Memories of 0-21

It is fitting the Orioles should be here now. Authors of a 21-game losing streak to open the 1988 season, the Orioles watched as the Cubs lost a National League-record 12th straight to open the season across town at Wrigley Field. Of that Orioles team, only Cal Ripken remains. Brady Anderson arrived in July as part of a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

"I was only here for the last 80 losses," Anderson said jokingly.

As for Ripken, the losing binge remains one of the most painful segments of his career. Cal Sr. was ousted as manager six games into the season and Frank Robinson assumed managerial duties for the next 15 losses.

"I try not to think about it. It's not part of my career that I like to go back on and remember," Ripken said. "There's some value you can take from all your experiences in life and baseball. In some ways, if you can play through that, you can deal with anything."

Makeshift lineup

Last night's lineup card bore the fresh marks of improvisation. Johnson already had slotted Eric Davis in right field and Jeffrey Hammonds in center before learning that both were less than 100 percent due to injuries related to Tuesday's game. Davis received treatment for a sore shoulder after diving for a line drive against Greg Colbrunn. Davis also is battling a 1-for-16 funk.

Hammonds, who had started every game in place of the sore-ribbed Anderson, suffered a slight groin pull in Tuesday's sixth inning when he raced to the center-field wall to bring down Colbrunn's drive.

Working over his initial lineup with white ink, Johnson responded with a first-time lineup including an outfield of B. J. Surhoff in left field, Jerome Walton in center and Pete Incaviglia in right.

A return to normalcy

The Orioles face life without reliever Alan Mills for the next nine days. However, Mills' absence on a 12-man staff will mean some welcome additional work for those remaining. Reliever Terry Mathews, slotted to assume some of Mills' duties, calls the situation "normal."

That's not a reference to Mills' history of injuries. Instead, Mathews believes the workload among a deep staff now will more closely resemble that of typical bullpens.

Webster sees show of unity

Lenny Webster took notice of how his teammates joined him Tuesday in commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking the color line. During batting practice, about half the team had its pants pulled to calf length. However, when the game began, all players had adopted the fashion.

"Eric [Davis] and Jeffrey did it, then I did it, and before long everyone had done it. It made you feel good. It showed unity," said Webster.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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