In last tuneup, O's fit as fiddle Kamieniecki, Webster, Anderson ease fears as only score hurts

March 30, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Scott Kamieniecki's back received a passing grade. So did Brady Anderson's left hand and Lenny Webster's right elbow.

Those were the results that truly mattered yesterday.

The Orioles' 4-2 loss to the New York Mets before 29,107 at Camden Yards was as much a gauge as a game. Manager Ray Miller needed assurance that Kamieniecki could make Saturday's start in Detroit, that Anderson could play Opening Day, that Webster could dodge the disabled list.

He was satisfied on all three counts.

"I guess I can officially say we got out of spring training healthy," Miller said.

Kamieniecki's numbers weren't strong -- three runs and four hits in four relief innings -- but his back was sound after spasms had prevented him from making Tuesday's start in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Kammy came through it fine. Not one complaint," Miller said.

"It felt good," said Kamieniecki, who has been bumped to the fifth starter in the rotation's first turn. "There's nothing wrong with my back. I proved that Friday when I aired it out [on the side]. I guess if anybody didn't believe me, there's only one way to handle it, and that's to go out and pitch."

Miller said Anderson came through the clubhouse door wanting to play. The wait lasted until the sixth inning, when he pinch hit for Mike Bordick and struck out looking.

"My hand felt great that at-bat. Didn't bother me a bit," he joked.

Anderson replaced Jeffrey Hammonds in center field and lined a single up the middle off Mets reliever Turk Wendell in the eighth. He stole second, sliding feet-first rather than diving.

Smart move. Anderson chipped a bone in his hand after being struck by a throw from Florida Marlins catcher Charles Johnson while diving into second during Thursday's game in Viera.

"He's healthy and ready to go," Miller said.

Anderson had tested the hand during batting practice, flexing it as he stepped out of the cage, and while throwing in the outfield.

"It was all right. It was a little tender at first, but I guess you have to expect that," he said.

"I was a little apprehensive in batting practice. It felt fine throwing. It's just impact and things like that."

Miller said he wasn't sure what to expect of Webster until the catcher did some throwing before the game. He didn't cut loose, and though he felt some soreness, Webster said it wasn't as pronounced as when he was shut down for the last week of camp because of inflammation.

Miller and trainer Richie Bancells spoke with Webster yesterday morning about going on the disabled list, but the catcher said he didn't believe the additional time off would make enough of a difference. He would have missed the first six games if placed on the DL.

Webster eased some concerns by getting through the pre-game session without a problem, then catching the last inning and throwing out Tim Spehr on a delayed steal.

"That's a true test there, because it wasn't a steal where he just takes off and everybody yells, 'There he goes,' " Miller said. "It's one of those things where you catch it and then they yell and you've got to get rid of it quick. And he did. He put it right on the money. He felt better, and I know I felt better."

Spehr had asked Webster about his elbow before the game, then gave Jeff Reboulet a message to pass along to his friend.

"He said, 'I'm sorry I had to test his arm. I know he doesn't like it.' But it doesn't matter to me. I had to throw at some point," Webster said.

"I'm very happy with where I am right now. If the pain that I have now will allow me to throw the way I am, then I think I can play like that. I'm not going to throw at 100 percent right now for fear of hurting it again. But if I can get by at 75, 80 percent, then that's what I have to do. As far as I'm concerned, I think I can do that with minimal pain.

"I feel it a little bit, but it's less painful than it was 10 days ago, and I'm happy about that. So we'll just keep with the exercises and therapy, and hopefully it continues to get a little better."

Doug Drabek, who moved ahead of Kamieniecki into the fourth spot, allowed one run and three hits in three innings, leaving his ERA at 2.42 in six games (26 innings). He retired the last seven batters after allowing a double and two singles to open the game.

His offensive support was zilch. Mets right-hander Rick Reed retired the first 15 batters before Hammonds singled leading off the sixth. John Hudek came in and allowed an RBI single to Eric Davis.

Nerio Rodriguez pitched two hitless innings before being reassigned to the Orioles' minor-league camp.

Chris Hoiles hit his first home run this spring, a shot to left off Turk Wendell in the eighth inning with the count full. Hoiles batted .341 this spring.

O's tomorrow

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 3: 05 p.m. TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Pitchers: Royals' Tim Belcher (13-12, 5.02 in '97) vs. Orioles' Mike Mussina (15-8, 3.20 in '97)

Pub Date: 3/30/98

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