Going with pitch carrying Hammonds over the fence 2 homers give outfielder 4 for spring, 3 to right field

Orioles notebook

March 27, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

VIERA, Fla. -- Jeffrey Hammonds has been trying to stay inside the ball this spring, hitting it where it's pitched and not falling into the trap of wanting to do too much. Yesterday, that approach and a strong wind produced his third and fourth home runs of the spring, both to the opposite field, in the Orioles' 6-4 win over the Florida Marlins.

Hammonds had a pair of two-run shots after entering the game in the fourth inning, tying him with Eric Davis for the club lead in RBIs with 16. Three of the right-handed hitter's home runs this spring have gone to right field.

"I'm feeling very comfortable in the box, and I'm not afraid to go that way [right field]," he said. "As they say, there are a lot of hits that way."

"If he can hit the ball that way," said manager Ray Miller, "he can do a lot of things."

Having signed a three-year, $7.1 million contract last month, Hammonds is secure enough in his standing with the club to try different things, a point Miller has raised many times this spring.

"I'm just trying to stay consistent and have fun with it," said Hammonds, who raised his average to .333 (17-for-51). "I never looked at it that way in the past. I always felt I had to do

something every day because I was supposed to, and I'd get down when I didn't. I'm not allowing myself to do that now. I'm having fun and letting it hang out."

Greene waits on Webster

Charlie Greene said Miller hasn't spoken to him about the possibility that the catcher could begin the year in Baltimore if Lenny Webster is placed on the disabled list. "But there's always a chance," Greene said.

Webster is receiving medication to reduce the inflammation in his right elbow. He's been told not to throw for a few more days.

"It's unfortunate he's hurt, but if that happens I'd love to be the guy," said Greene, who would go to Triple-A Rochester if Webster is healthy. "It's out of my hands. I've just got to go out and play."

Greene started yesterday, going 0-for-4 and reaching on an error in the Orioles' win. Known throughout his minor-league career as a catch-and-throw guy, he's hitless in 16 spring at-bats.

"I've hit the ball hard a couple times. Wherever I go, whether it's here or in Rochester, I've got to get some consistent ABs and get a plan going," he said. "If I'm in Baltimore and backing up [Chris] Hoiles, I'm not going to get much time to hit. But whatever they ask me, I'm going to do."

If Webster goes on the DL, it could be retroactive 10 days, meaning he would miss only five games of the regular season. Miller still doesn't expect it to happen.

"I think he'll be all right," Miller said. "I think he just needs to freshen up."

Webster appeared in a career-high 98 games last season, and Miller said he'll probably catch four out of every 10 this year. Webster will start whenever Scott Erickson pitches, as he did last season.

Hurting hip for Hoiles

Hoiles still was feeling sore yesterday after being hit on the left hip by Marlins pitcher Brian Meadows during Wednesday's 5-4 victory. He entered yesterday's game as a pinch runner in the sixth inning and trotted home on Hammonds' first home run.

"[Meadows] drilled me pretty good," Hoiles said. "I tried to play through it, but it caught up to me."

Hoiles has taken enough abuse this spring, getting hit in the left rib cage by the broken end of a bat while standing in the on-deck circle.

Around the horn

Davis was scratched from the lineup because of stiffness in his lower back. Scott Kamieniecki did some long tossing in the outfield with pitching coach Mike Flanagan before the game. He missed Tuesday's start in Fort Lauderdale because of back spasms, but remains hopeful of pitching in Sunday's exhibition game at Camden Yards. "He's about the same as he was [Wednesday]," Miller said. Miller said he plans on conducting Monday's workout at Camden Yards in the evening, starting at 6 or 6: 30, in part because he wants to get the players reacquainted with hitting under major-league lights. The later time also affords more privacy. Kansas City will start Tim Belcher, Glendon Rusch and Pat Rapp in the season-opening three-game series at Camden Yards. Erickson makes his last spring start today in Jupiter, opposing Montreal left-hander Carlos Perez.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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