Broken foot to sideline Clyburn Outfield prospect joins team's growing injury list

Orioles notebook

March 05, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Joe Strauss and Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Orioles have gotten through spring training without any major injuries, but the minor ones are beginning to pile up. Each day that manager Ray Miller speaks with trainer Richie Bancells seems to bring more bad news.

The latest mishap involves outfielder Danny Clyburn, who broke the fourth metatarsal bone in his left foot while running the bases Tuesday and will be out four weeks.

Clyburn, who will turn 24 next month, dumped a two-run single into center field in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 6-6 tie with the Minnesota Twins. He hesitated rounding first, then took off when the ball was bobbled and dived into second. He walked slowly to the dugout after being removed for a pinch runner, and was on crutches yesterday at the Orioles' complex.

Clyburn had the foot checked by a doctor after Tuesday's game and was told the injury didn't appear serious, Miller said. But the outfielder was limping yesterday morning and was sent for X-rays, which revealed the break.

"It's a shame," said Miller, who doesn't plan to add another position player.

Clyburn is expected to begin the year at Triple-A Rochester, where he batted .300 last season. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts after being called up by the Orioles in September.

He has impressed Miller with his strength, cranking prodigious home runs in batting practice, but twice has misplayed balls afield.

Miller already was down one outfielder with the news that B. J. Surhoff would be out until early next week with a ligament injury in the ring finger of his right hand. He's also lost three minor-league pitchers to injuries -- Steve Montgomery, Everett Stull and Julio Moreno.

Reboulet returns

One of the wounded Orioles felt well enough to play yesterday. Infielder Jeff Reboulet, who was hit on the left elbow Sunday, entered yesterday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning and struck out in his only at-bat in the Orioles' 6-3 loss.

Reboulet replaced Ozzie Guillen at second base in the seventh inning, then moved to shortstop in the eighth. Guillen was making his first start at second after playing shortstop for 13 seasons.

Guillen got his first hit as an Oriole, doubling in the third.

Mercker struggles

St. Louis pitcher Kent Mercker didn't do anything yesterday to make the Orioles regret unloading him during the 1996 season. His biggest accomplishment was dragging the game out long enough to boost concession sales.

Mercker labored from the start, setting a pace only a snail could love. He loaded the bases in the first inning on a leadoff single by Jeffrey Hammonds and two walks, then gave up a two-out, two-run single to Jesus Tavarez.

The Orioles again loaded the bases in the second inning, this time on singles by pitcher Doug Drabek and Mike Bordick and Rafael Palmeiro's second walk, before Mercker struck out Joe Carter. Manager Tony La Russa then removed Mercker for a pinch hitter with the Orioles ahead 2-1, and the left-hander bolted the clubhouse after a quick shower.

Mercker won one game for the Orioles before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1996. He signed with the Cardinals as a free agent this winter after pitching a career-high 144 2/3 innings and going 8-11 with a 3.92 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds.

Drabek satisfied

It wasn't exactly what he had in mind, but Drabek said he was satisfied with his first exhibition performance as an Oriole. He gave up four runs on seven hits in three innings.

"I got through one inning with only one guy getting on base," said Drabek, who is known as a slow starter. "The other two innings, with a lot of guys on, I got to pitch in a lot of situations. That was good. The first time out, you're just trying to see how you feel."

Webster feeling better

Backup catcher Lenny Webster received two at-bats during yesterday's 7-3, split-squad win over the Mexico City Reds at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Webster, recovering from off-season arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, popped to second base and grounded out, but did not appear in the field. He is expected to make his first appearance behind the plate today against the New York Mets. Webster reported no problems yesterday.

"Both times, I didn't feel anything," said Webster, bothered by shoulder stiffness after taking batting practice earlier this spring. "That was the biggest test, and I didn't notice a thing."

Upon further review, Webster now acknowledges jumping too quickly into camp. A better plan might have been continuing the program he had begun at home during the off-season. "I was anxious to get going and do what everyone else was doing. That probably wasn't realistic. I had been hitting at home off the tee, and I guess the right thing to do was to stay with that."

Webster's return to shared catching duties with Hoiles coincides with looming cuts. The Orioles have seven catchers in camp, including nonroster receivers Chip Alley, Jayson Werth and Jim Foster. Miller has said the club would begin paring down after yesterday's games.

O's win (sort of)

The game against the Reds does not count in Grapefruit League standings, but several players will savor their performances. Last year's first-round draft pick, Darnell McDonald, went 3-for-3 after entering the game in the fourth inning. Left fielder Wady Almonte went 2-for-2, but was caught stealing for a second straight day. Right fielder Miguel Mejia, still a long shot to make the major-league club given a trade of Tony Tarasco, contributed two hits and an RBI.

Brady Anderson, Roberto Alomar and Harold Baines gave the game a major-league look. Anderson singled twice and drove in a run. Extending a torrid start, Baines doubled home two runs during the Orioles' five-run third inning. Alomar flied out twice and is still seeking his first spring hit.

Around the horn

Bordick batted second for the first time this spring. Right-hander Mike Mussina makes his second start of the spring today, opposing Mets lefty Al Leiter.

Pub Date: 3/05/98

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