Miller says team meeting more of pep talk Manager opts to focus on veteran team's focus

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

May 17, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Rather than head onto the field to stretch at 4: 15 p.m. yesterday, the Orioles were kept inside the clubhouse for about 20 minutes while manager Ray Miller conducted his first team meeting.

Information was scarce. Miller is adamant about keeping such matters private. But he clearly has become agitated with the club's performance and apparently did most of the talking.

"It was just a state of the union, a pep talk. How's that?" Miller said.

Asked if it was well-received, he said, "I don't know. We'll see. It was awful quiet. I feel better.

"It's a good bunch of guys. I have absolutely no qualms or uneasiness about their work ethic. These guys all work hard. I'm very protective of these guys and I'm going to continue to be because I think they're great people. I just think they need to focus a little better, that's all."

Miller has found comfort in the words of other managers he has faced this season.

"They'll tell you, 'Hang in there,' and everybody follows it up with, 'You've got great talent. They'll be all right.' You appreciate that," he said.

Anderson sits one out

Something else came out of the meeting: a lineup change.

Brady Anderson was replaced in center field by Jeffrey Hammonds, who had been listed in right field on the original lineup. Eric Davis took Hammonds' place, and Roberto Alomar moved atop the order after batting third the past three games.

Miller said the switches had nothing to do with Anderson's right shoulder strain, which had forced him onto the disabled list April 20.

"Brady's just a little beat up, nothing serious. Just a little sore," Miller said, adding that Anderson approached him about taking the night off.

"He's a gamer, so if he comes to me and says he's a little sore, then he's a little sore. He's hit the [outfield] wall out there a couple times and he's just kind of achy. With a day game [today] it's a good time to give him off.

"He did this last year about three times. He just came in and said, 'I could use a day.' And that's what I encourage everybody on the ballclub to do because I don't want anybody to think, 'The club can't function without me.' "

Anderson had hit in four straight games (5-for-19) after an 0-for-27 stretch.

First base coach nicked

The Orioles' run of misfortune has extended into the first base coaching box.

Carlos Bernhardt needed nine stitches to close a gash above his right eye after being hit by a warm-up toss from Scott Erickson before the eighth inning last night. Catcher Lenny Webster had flied out to end the seventh, and Bernhardt went out to catch Erickson without wearing a mask. The ball bounced off the plate and struck him in the face.

Bernhardt had blood splattered on his uniform pants and both hands as he sat in front of his locker wearing a bandage above the swollen eye. He will get X-rayed today.

"Not winning, that's what is painful for me," he said.

Bench coach Eddie Murray took Bernhardt's place when the Orioles batted.

'It' has to be Drabek

Another name-plate mystery has arisen in the clubhouse.

Just as reliever Alan Mills couldn't figure out who once replaced the name above his locker with one reading "Lightyear" -- as in the character from the "Toy Story" movie -- starter Doug Drabek is equally at a loss to explain his new nickname: "It."

"Maybe he knows," Drabek said, pointing to Scott Kamieniecki, who sat a few lockers away. "He's usually the guilty party. I'd ask him. He might give you an answer. It's amazing someone actually made up a new name plate. Isn't that right, Kammy?"

Kamieniecki wouldn't admit to anything. "You're looking on the wrong side of the clubhouse," he said.

Long road home

Scott McClain finally made it to Baltimore, though not under the circumstances he had once dreamed.

McClain was in the Orioles' system for seven years until being traded to the New York Mets last spring along with shortstop Manny Alexander for pitcher Hector Ramirez. McClain signed with the Devil Rays as a free agent in January and made his major-league debut Thursday night, flying out as a pinch hitter.

A nonroster invitee to spring training, he was the International League's Player of the Month for April while with Triple-A Durham. He led the league in RBIs with 36 and was tied for second in home runs with 10.

Around the horn

Mike Mussina wasn't at Camden Yards yesterday, but is expected to be here today. Miller said it's still uncertain if Mussina will make Tuesday's start in New York. "It's up in the air. It'll either be Mussina or a bullpen guy," he said. The Orioles wore their black jerseys for the first time this season. "Some of the guys have been asking for them," Miller said. "For what reason, I don't know. Maybe they've been successful in them. It sure makes us 50-year-olds with mature builds look a lot better." Heading into last night, the Orioles hadn't been shut out since July 20, a streak of 107 games that led the majors . Rocky Coppinger started Thursday's extended spring training game in Sarasota and pitched four innings, his longest stint since coming back from a strained shoulder. He allowed one unearned run, walked one and struck out two.

Pub Date: 5/17/98

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