Key encouraged as shot removes 'migraine' from ailing shoulder 'Not hurting,' lefty works with 3-pound weights

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 10, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Kent Baker contributed to this article.

PHILADELPHIA -- Orioles pitcher Jimmy Key said the cortisone shot he received in Alabama on Monday removed a pain he described as "a migraine in my shoulder all the time." It also allowed Key to perform cuff weight exercises yesterday for the first time since going on the disabled list retroactive to May 21 with an inflamed left rotator cuff.

Previously unable to do weight-free exercises without feeling severe pain, Key made significant progress yesterday by lifting 3 pounds with his left arm. Five pounds is the maximum for cuff weights.

"I feel good because my arm's not hurting anymore," said Key, who rejoined the club after being examined by orthopedic doctor James Andrews in Birmingham. "Before, it was just continuously throbbing. Now, the pain is gone, so I can start some exercises and try to build the strength up."

Key said he had an injection in Baltimore 10 days ago, "but it didn't do anything, it didn't take."

Andrews, who operated on Key's rotator cuff three years ago, had notified the club that he didn't find any fresh tears or fraying. He instructed Key to wait about 10 days before attempting to throw.

If his shoulder isn't sore today and subsequent exercises don't cause a relapse, Key hopes to throw toward the middle or end of next week. His return remains uncertain.

"This pain was different from the pain I was feeling when I was throwing. This was a throb, a constant throbbing. The pain I had when I was throwing, I don't know if it's going to be there or not. We're talking about two different things here," Key said.

Anderson, Surhoff take seat

Orioles manager Ray Miller wasn't certain he could keep his original lineup last night, but didn't need to make any changes once assured that Eric Davis' sore right elbow wouldn't prevent him from starting in right field.

Davis continues to receive treatment for swelling in the elbow, and though his condition has improved over the last few weeks, it still limits his playing time.

"It's just a worn-down joint," trainer Richie Bancells said. "He has good days and bad days. Because of the wearing away, there's some swelling. He goes along fine for a few days and then, for some unknown reason, it'll turn up swollen."

With Davis able to play, Miller was able to rest Brady Anderson and B. J. Surhoff against Phillies left-hander Matt Beech. Jesus Tavarez (0-for-2 with a walk) made his first start as an Oriole in center field, and Joe Carter started for the first time in left.

Weird ejection

The Orioles must lead the majors in weird ejections. Surhoff gets tossed in New York for throwing a ball into the stands rather than handing it to an umpire after recording the last out, and Miller is sent to the clubhouse Monday night because his pitching coach made two visits to the mound on one eighth-inning trip.

Keep those rule books handy.

Mike Flanagan said he was aware of Rule 8.06 but didn't think he had violated it. He stepped off the mound after speaking with Armando Benitez, then returned for a few more words, which constituted a second visit. Baseball's version of a foot fault.

"I figured I hadn't gone far enough," Flanagan said. "I just took one or two steps and said, 'And one more thing.' It's just a technical thing. I would have been upset if we hadn't had anybody ready in the bullpen. I'm just glad it didn't affect anything."

Miller said his ejection was "a major-league rule but it's not called too much on the other side. In the National League they're more tuned in to that stuff.

"It's a rule. You can't argue about a rule. The way things have been going, I'll probably get fined, too."

Not fanatic about Philly

Veterans Stadium isn't drawing rave reviews from the Orioles. They're most disapproving of the bullpen mound and a magic carpet that makes routine outs disappear.

"Everybody complained about the bullpen mound," Miller said. "Not to make excuses, but it's kind of flat and very small."

With the field mound being much higher, it's a tough adjustment for pitchers coming into a game. Their mechanics tend to get thrown out of whack.

"I think it bothered Doug [Johns] more than anybody," Miller said, after the left-hander had allowed seven runs in four innings. "He was falling forward to the plate and having trouble getting his arm up. His first five warm-ups he almost fell. He got out of sync."

Infielders on both sides are challenged by balls that pick up speed and take high hops off the turf.

"This one's hard, slippery," Palmeiro said. "The turf feels like it's worn out. I think it's because it's outdoors. The turf fields in the other league are indoors, so the turf stays in better shape. This one, with the sun and the heat, it wears out."

Sign of draft times

An update from the draft front:

Third-round pick Steven Bechler, from Medford, Ore., is one of 11 of this year's draftees to sign contracts. Bechler, a right-handed pitcher, was the 99th player selected.

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