Drabek plans to make next start He'll test sore muscle today on side


O's step up effort to trade for pitcher


June 20, 1998|By Joe Strauss, Bill Free and Eduardo Encina | Joe Strauss, Bill Free and Eduardo Encina,SUN STAFF

Doug Drabek intends to make his next scheduled start against the New York Mets on Tuesday barring further complications from a strained muscle on the right side of his chest, the right-hander said yesterday.

The Orioles inserted left-hander Doug Johns into Drabek's spot Thursday night and suffered a 13-6 loss to Toronto. Johns was making his first start since June 8 and survived only 4 2/3 innings. Drabek has not pitched since June 13 when he lasted two innings against the Blue Jays after straining a muscle while warming up.

"I'm looking forward to making my next start," he said. "We'll see how it goes, but unless there's a problem, I plan to be in there."

Drabek will participate in a side session today, his first effort from a mound since suffering the muscle strain.

Meanwhile, Scott Kamieniecki threw on the side before yesterday's game with assistant trainer Brian Ebel. It was Kamieniecki's second session of toss in three days but he remains weeks away from starting.

Any pitchers out there?

With Jimmy Key unavailable until at least the end of next month and possibly longer, the Orioles are canvassing also-rans for available starting pitching. The search may take them to the Montreal Expos regarding Carlos Perez and the Seattle Mariners about Randy Johnson.

While the Expos have said they are not willing to part with Perez, posturing is commonplace. The Mariners pulled back Johnson earlier this month when a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers crumbled.

The Orioles are admitted long shots for Johnson because they lack the depth necessary to secure him. Johnson also will be a pending free agent seeking more than $12 million a season.

Other avenues include the Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. The Phillies appear a potential match with interim closer Mark Leiter and catcher Mike Lieberthal. Leiter may lose his closer role with the return of Ricky Bottalico from arthroscopic elbow surgery.

The Phillies already have underscored Bottalico as untouchable. Lieberthal represents a strong defensive presence and the Orioles appear increasingly impatient with Chris Hoiles' offensive struggles.

Depending on the Orioles' position, they also may follow through on discussing a deal that would send Roberto Alomar for Braves' fifth starter Kevin Millwood. Braves general manager John Schuerholz typically makes a deal around the July 31 trading deadline, but has never dealt front-line starting pitching.

"It's far more likely that something will happen than won't happen in the next several weeks," said a club official.

Happy homecoming

Former University of Baltimore baseball coach Jack Hubbard's 14-year association with Major League Baseball has returned him to the field this season as the first base coach of the Blue Jays.

Hubbard, 47, who also managed locally at Community College of Baltimore and Calvert Hall, had his first major-league stint on the field as first base and outfield coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1993. He also was a St. Louis scout in 1992 and 1994.

"Tim Johnson [Toronto manager] gave me a chance to get back in the majors as a coach," said Hubbard, a scout for the Chicago White Sox last season.

There have been two stints with the New York Yankees for Hubbard, first as a minor-league coach for the Prince William Cannons and scout from 1989 to 1991 and then director of player development in 1995 and 1996.

A native of Rock Hall, Hubbard got his start in pro baseball in 1984 when Walter Youse helped hook him up as a scout with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hubbard spent four years with Milwaukee before going to the Yankees.

At the University of Baltimore, he won three Mason-Dixon Conference titles from 1972 to 1975.

RBI for inner city

The Orioles launched an initiative yesterday that gives fans extra incentive to cheer for third baseman Cal Ripken and pitcher Mike Mussina, while helping inner-city youth.

The initiative, sponsored by Coca-Cola, Target and Food King, donates $50 for each Ripken RBI and each Mussina strikeout for the rest of the season to the city's RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner city) league.

The Orioles RBI league, now in its third year, is the only citywide league for boys 13 to 15 years old. It is part of a nationwide program that provides inner-city youth the opportunity to learn to play baseball. The Baltimore league has nine teams and 135 children.

Ripken remarked on the importance of having the chance to play baseball at that age.

"I think it was at that age where I thought I found it as a player," he said. "Your skill level and your physical maturity hits your stride and makes you understand what baseball is all about.

"In this day and age where the athlete has so many options, I am for any program that can get people out on the field, competing and playing baseball."

Around the horn

Washington Capitals defenseman Mark Tinordi was a guest of the Orioles last night. Tinordi toured the facility before the game. The club believes outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds is at least 10 to 14 days away from returning from what have been classified as "muscle spasms" in his back. Given that Hammonds has been missing from the lineup since June 2, the condition is believed more serious. Hammonds was eligible to leave the disabled list last night. Ray Miller considered giving recently acquired outfielder Rich Becker his first start as an Oriole last night but balked after seeing his 2-for-16 career success against Roger Clemens. Miller rested Eric Davis, who is struggling with a .174 average (8-for-46) over his last 17 games with a plate appearance. Davis was used as a pinch runner in the seventh

inning and was thrown out stealing.

Pub Date: 6/20/98

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