Second opinion confirms no tear for Key But specialist Andrews can't pinpoint lefty's return

Sidelight

June 09, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Orioles starting pitchers Jimmy Key and Scott Kamieniecki did not accompany the club here yesterday as Key was examined by orthopedic doctor James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and Kamieniecki remained in Baltimore for physical therapy, team officials said.

Key, put on the disabled list retroactive to May 21 because of an inflamed left rotator cuff, received a second opinion from the same surgeon who operated on his rotator cuff in July 1995. Andrews notified the club that he did not discover any fresh tears or fraying -- confirming the initial diagnosis of team orthopedic physician Michael Jacobs. But Andrews could not provide a time frame for his return.

Key has twice attempted to perform exercises since being put on the DL and both times experienced severe pain. At 37 and having already undergone four surgeries on his left shoulder, Key has said he will retire before undergoing another procedure.

While Andrews had "no new news" for Key, according to the club, he did leave open the possibility of Key's pitching again this season. However, any possible return would be later rather than sooner.

Orioles head trainer Richie Bancells said Key will have to "start at ground zero" when he returns, virtually needing a second spring training.

"It's kind of wait and see. Jimmy has to be the judge of when his pain goes away," Bancells said. "Jimmy has to feel better before he can get into a more aggressive rehab plan. Then he will let me know."

The Orioles hope for the best but are dealing with a reality that offers no guarantees. Manager Ray Miller acknowledged yesterday that for the club to have a viable chance of playoff contention, it must obtain another starting pitcher.

"One more starter would do it. I think with Moose [Mike Mussina] back and [Scott] Erickson with the two Dougs -- you think of Johns as the four and Drabek as five -- I think it would be reasonable if Mussina and Erickson do their normal things," said Miller, adding that he holds out hope for rookie Sidney Ponson blossoming into a regular starter should Kamieniecki and Key remain unavailable.

Key is scheduled to rejoin the club on its six-game road trip. Kamieniecki will remain in Baltimore to receive therapy.

Kamieniecki has been on the disabled list retroactive to May 23 with neck stiffness. The condition prevents him from throwing breaking pitches. Since going on the DL, he has attempted to throw several times in the outfield but has not pitched from a mound. The Orioles say they are baffled by the injury but believe it is a strained muscle on the right side of Kamieniecki's neck.

Like Key, the right-hander will have to regain arm strength before re-entering the rotation. Miller says Kamieniecki will likely make several appearances out of the bullpen before getting another start.

"We can't count on anything right now," he said. "All we can do is wait to hear something."

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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