'Targeted' pitchers take another shot Griffey liner forces out Rhodes

Sidelight

Drabek struck, too

June 03, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Arthur Rhodes said Orioles pitchers have a "target on our bodies."

Lenny Webster said it "was scary" to see Rhodes become the latest Orioles victim of a screaming line drive from a powerful American League hitter.

"I don't know if we should start pitching with a shield," said Orioles manager Ray Miller. "Arthur got hit below the heart. It was a heck of a shot. He never saw the ball."

Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks called this season's siege of screaming liners at the team's pitchers "the worst I've ever seen" in 30 years with the Orioles.

Cal Ripken said, "I knew Arthur was going to be all right when he sat up. He's a big strong guy and he got hit in the stomach, not on any bones. It's one of the realities of the sport and if you allow yourself to think about it too much it can be a hazard."

That was the mood in the Orioles' clubhouse yesterday in the aftermath of another dangerous day on the mound for their beleaguered pitching staff.

Rhodes suffered an abdominal contusion and left the game when he got hit in the stomach by a vicious line drive off the bat of Seattle slugger Ken Griffey in the eighth inning.

Rhodes said he will be examined by Orioles physician Michael Jacobs this morning and then plans to leave for tonight's 7: 05 game in Boston against the Red Sox.

"I'm all right," said Rhodes, who doesn't expect Jacobs to find any internal injuries. "He hit it hard, but I got back up. I'm going to Boston."

Rhodes tried to pitch after taking the liner, but said "there was too much pain at the time."

"All you can think about is trying to knock the ball down and getting out of the way," said Rhodes. "We have to get this target off our bodies. It's the first time I've ever been hit in the stomach on the mound or anywhere except my foot."

Rhodes fell on his back when the ball hit him, rolled to his side and on to the ground as trainer Richie Bancells and Miller rushed fTC to the mound, in what has become a familiar sight this season.

First Norm Charlton suffered a broken nose this season when hit by a line drive off the bat of Frank Thomas April 29 and then came the near-disastrous Mike Mussina gash over the right eye when Sandy Alomar hit him with a searing shot on May 15.

And Rhodes wasn't the only Orioles victim yesterday.

The first batter of the game, Joey Cora, smashed a one-hopper that struck Orioles starter Doug Drabek in the groin. In the eighth inning, Jesse Orosco just missed being hit by John Marzano's shattered bat.

The sight of Cora drilling a pitcher left Hendricks shaking his head.

"You can see the big powerful guys like Griffey and Sandy Alomar hitting pitchers, but a guy like Cora shouldn't be doing it," said Hendricks.

"All the white shirts in the stands have to be part of the problem. We practice all the time in spring training on our pitchers getting their gloves up for hard shots through the mound. Maybe they'll take it a lot more seriously next spring."

Hazardous duty

The mound has been a dangerous place this season for Orioles pitchers. Yesterday, Arthur Rhodes and Doug Drabek were hit by drives and Jesse Orosco nearly avoided being struck by a broken bat. A look at the injuries suffered by Orioles pitchers who have been hit:

Date..Pitcher .. .. .Batter .. .. .. ..Injury

Norm Charlton .F. Thomas, Chi. ..Nondisplaced nose

............. ............ ....... ....fracture

5/15..Mike Mussina ..S. Alomar, Cle. ..Broken nose, laceration

............. ..... ....above eye

6/2 ..Arthur Rhodes .K. Griffey, Sea. .Abdominal contusion

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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