Stiff neck sends Kamieniecki back to DL O's bring up R. Lewis to fill spot in rotation

Orioles Notebook

May 31, 1998|By Roch Kubatko and Bill Free | Roch Kubatko and Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Still bothered by stiffness in his neck, Scott Kamieniecki was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday for the second time this season, retroactive to May 23. To take his place, the Orioles have purchased the contract of right-hander Richie Lewis from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

Kamieniecki threw for about six minutes yesterday to determine whether he could start tomorrow against the Seattle Mariners. He wasn't available to comment last night, but pitching coach Mike Flanagan said: "It was about the same. We've got a decision to make."

Manager Ray Miller placed a call to general manager Pat Gillick to inform him of Kamieniecki's condition and determine whether the club needed to make a roster move. Soon after, the decision was made to bring up Lewis, who pitched for the Orioles in 1992.

Lewis, 32, who is expected to report today, is 1-2 with a 3.73 ERA. If he starts tomorrow, he would be working on three days' rest. He threw 7 2/3 innings Thursday, allowing three runs and getting no decision in a 7-5 loss to the Durham Bulls. In his previous start, he struck out 14 in nine innings against the Charlotte Knights.

If Lewis does start, he would be the 10th pitcher to do so for the Orioles this season. By comparison, the New York Yankees have had only five.

Kamieniecki missed his start Thursday because of stiffness along the right side of his neck, which he says he believes was aggravated by a three-inning stint in Oakland on May 22, when he allowed seven runs in a 9-5 loss that left his ERA at 6.75.

He felt the neck "lock up" while throwing on the side in Seattle, leading to the decision to hold him back Thursday. Doug Drabek took his spot and limited the Texas Rangers to two runs while pitching into the eighth inning of a 5-2 win. Kamieniecki was bumped again last night, his place taken by reliever Bobby Munoz.

Kamieniecki went on the DL on April 26 with soreness in his right elbow and groin. Yesterday's move leaves the Orioles with just two starters, Scott Erickson and Drabek, who were in the rotation when the club broke camp. Mike Mussina and Jimmy Key also are on the DL.

Kamieniecki is receiving heat, ice and ultrasound treatments and taking medication to reduce the discomfort.

Mussina close to return

It appears the Orioles will have their ace back in time for the season's first interleague series. Mussina has been cleared to return to the mound, and Miller has penciled in the right-hander to start Saturday against the Atlanta Braves at Camden Yards.

Mussina visited yesterday with Dr. Brad Robertson, who performed the surgery on his fractured nose, at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He's been on the disabled list since May 18.

"The doctor said it's pretty much up to him," Miller said. "I have him scheduled for the sixth, but that's not in stone yet."

Miller is waiting to see how Mussina feels after today's side session. It will be the second time he has thrown since having his nose reset May 21 while the club was in New York.

"Everything's fine, except when he runs he feels a little strange," Miller said.

Davis back in action

Right fielder Eric Davis celebrated his 36th birthday Friday by watching from the dugout as the Orioles defeated Texas. It was the eighth time in 10 games he hadn't been in the lineup. It didn't happen again last night.

Davis was in right field and batting second, breaking a string of 13 straight starts for Jeffrey Hammonds. Miller said he preferred having Davis play last night, rather than in the heat this afternoon.

Davis has been receiving treatment for swelling in his right elbow, a condition that mostly affects his throwing. He's also getting lost among a crowded group of outfielders/designated hitters.

Hammonds is becoming a fixture in right, where his defense has been superb and his speed behind Brady Anderson appreciated. Harold Baines is consuming the at-bats at DH against right-handed pitching -- he has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he has hit .345 with nine RBIs -- and Miller also is seeking at-bats for Joe Carter.

Davis is hitting .283 .in 15 games this month, including two doubles, seven homers, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored.

"His elbow's still swollen, but [trainer Richie Bancells] keeps telling me it's markedly better each day," said Miller, who pinch hit Carter for Baines in the eighth inning of Friday's game and in the sixth inning last night. Carter grounded into a force on Friday, leaving him with three RBIs in 23 games, but doubled last night to knock in two runs and give the Orioles a brief 6-5 lead.

When the swelling was at its worst, Davis could flex his arm only to a 90-degree angle. "I still can't straighten it all the way, but it's close," he said.

Benitez passes test

Armando Benitez said his arm felt good yesterday after throwing the last three innings of Friday's game and recording his seventh save.

Benitez hadn't worked that many innings since Aug. 23, 1995, against Seattle. It also was his first appearance since hitting New York's Tino Martinez with a pitch May 19 and being handed an eight-game suspension by league president Gene Budig.

"It feels normal, strong," he said.

In majors, so to speak

Former South Carroll High and George Mason baseball standout Joey Goodwin is in town this weekend with the Rangers.

Goodwin is serving as a temporary bullpen catcher for the Rangers after joining the team from the club's Single-A Port Charlotte team in the Florida State League.

Goodwin is replacing regular Texas bullpen catcher Doug Witt (brother of Rangers pitcher Bobby), who recently came down with a blood clot in his shoulder.

Goodwin said he loves the big-league atmosphere but wants to return to Port Charlotte as soon as possible "and continue my regular career as a catcher in the organization."

Goodwin has played sparingly this season as backup catcher for Port Charlotte.

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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