Kamieniecki, Krivda await fate Rhodes' status, opponent to help determine who plays and in what role


October 07, 1997|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

A day after putting away the Seattle Mariners, the Orioles postponed any decisions about the makeup of their roster for the American League Championship Series until learning who they would face.

A strong possibility exists of adding left-hander Rick Krivda as an 11th pitcher for the best-of-seven format along with adjusting the bench for the Cleveland Indians' right-handed rotation. The availability of left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who left Game 3 because of arm stiffness, also must be assessed.

Pitching coach Ray Miller also confirmed that the first three turns of the rotation will go to Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key and Mike Mussina with Scott Kamieniecki again holding the uncertain role of fourth starter or long reliever.

"I ask for nothing. I get nothing. That's what I expect," said Kamieniecki, who finished the season 10-6 in 30 starts.

Elbowed from last week's three-man rotation, he was the only pitcher not to appear during the four-game Division Series. Kamieniecki threw in the bullpen only twice -- once during Game 2 for maintenance purposes and again during the fourth inning of Game 3 as Key labored.

"They haven't told me anything yet," said Kamieniecki. "I assume I'm in the same situation I was in for this series. We'll see how it goes."

Kamieniecki desperately wants to appear, but knows his opportunity probably will mean trouble for someone else. During the Division Series, the starters pitched a combined 25 1/3 innings, silencing Kamieniecki's role.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword. I want to get in there, but in a way I don't," said Kamieniecki. "If I have to get in, then it means someone else failed or someone got ripped or were hurt. If I don't get in there, it means everything went according to schedule and we win the series. It's sort of a tough situation, because I don't wish upon Scotty or Jimmy or Moose [Mussina] to be ripped."

Meanwhile, the situation with Rhodes remains cloudy. He was examined yesterday by team orthopedic Dr. Michael Jacobs, who recommended a "conservative" tact, according to general manager Pat Gillick.

Gillick said Rhodes would be retained on the roster even if there was no guarantee he could appear before Saturday's Game 3 in Cleveland. Adding Krivda as an 11th pitcher would mean the loss of a position player -- probably utility player Aaron Ledesma or outfielder Jerome Walton.

Mathews roots for Marlins

Should the Orioles make it to the World Series, reliever Terry Mathews has a clear preference on which team he wants to face.

Mathews has been following the Florida Marlins closely ever since they traded him to the Orioles on Aug. 21, 1996, for catcher Gregg Zaun. With so many friends still on the team, especially in the bullpen, he'd like to see the Marlins get past the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

"Robb Nen still is one of my best friends, in and out of baseball," he said of Florida's closer. "They're probably my second-most watched team, as far as following them. And up until the next series, I can actually pull for them and not be doing us any harm."

Mathews spent parts of three seasons with the Marlins, making two starts in 1994. Back then, respectability was a truer goal than the playoffs.

"They treated me good there. "To go back to Florida and beat them on their home ground, that would be kind of fun."

Ledesma 'enjoying the ride'

Ledesma still is waiting for an appearance in the postseason that may not come. In the meantime, he's enjoying the view from the bench, one that may seem like a mirage to a player who began the season as an unheralded Triple-A infielder.

"It's been a great experience," he said. "Even though I didn't play during the first round, I'm having a great time just being a part of it. It's really intense. It's something that many players don't get a chance to go through. I'm soaking it all in, and one of these days will be my day, if not this year."

Ledesma started 18 of the 43 games he appeared in after having his contract purchased from Rochester on July 5. His at-bats in the Division Series were lost because of Jeff Reboulet's past success against Seattle left-hander Randy Johnson and Roberto Alomar's improved health and scorching finish to the regular season.

"If somebody goes down, that's my role right now. I'm going to have to step up and fill in for him," Ledesma said. "I'm just waiting on reserve right now, and enjoying the ride."

Make it a best-of-seven

Miller would like to see the Division Series extended to a best-of-seven format, rather than going no longer than five games.

"It's not a true test of every club," the pitching coach said. "In actuality, you should have a seven-game series all through the playoffs because then you have to use your fourth pitcher and fourth reliever. The whole team becomes involved then. But that will never happen because of TV."

Gillick for the Indians

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