Kamieniecki eager for post-break return Frustrated, tired of sitting, injured starter also calls O's woes 'total team effort'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 01, 1998|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss | Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Orioles pitcher Scott Kamieniecki threw off a mound yesterday for the first time in a month and projected his return shortly after the All-Star break "if everything goes well."

Kamieniecki has been on the disabled list since May 30, retroactive to May 23, with stiffness in his neck, a condition that later was traced to a nerve problem. He has been throwing in the outfield, and yesterday's 10-minute bullpen session represented what he called "a steppingstone" to rejoining the Orioles' rotation.

"It felt OK. I'll be able to tell you more [today]," he said. "I didn't throw hard, maybe 50 percent, just trying to get back in the swing of things. There wasn't any pain. I'll throw again Thursday or Friday and try to go a little harder, throw some breaking pitches."

Frustrated from his second trip to the DL and a season crumbling before his eyes, Kamieniecki added, "If I get close to where I can pitch, I'll pitch. I'll go out there and pitch or something will break. I'm not going to sit around anymore. It's ridiculous."

Kamieniecki most likely would make a couple of rehab starts in the minors before being activated.

Asked about Mike Mussina's comments last weekend questioning the team's desire to find ways to win, Kamieniecki seconded the staff ace's opinion.

"It's a total team effort. We [stink]," he said.

"It shows. I've been in the clubhouse, I've been on the bench, I've watched on TV. Sometimes it hurts to be told the truth, but I have to believe it," Kamieniecki said.

"It's not just one person; I think it's everyone. Sometimes, it's easy to go out there and just play and wish the game was over. 'Let's just go out and play and hope for a quick game so we can go do our thing.' I'd like to think you'd go out there and grind it out, dig down and find ways to win. That's the tough part about this."

Kamieniecki said the malaise is not confined to hitters, pitchers or any individuals. Rather, he senses a team-wide shift in purpose.

"The only thing I hear about is guys complain about how long the games are," he said. "Yeah, they're long. But they're as long as they were last year. But we're not winning, so it makes it seem longer."

Lineup changes

As promised, manager Ray Miller made significant changes in his lineup for last night's game against the Florida Marlins, moving Roberto Alomar atop the order and dropping Brady Anderson to sixth. Anderson had led off in 54 of his 55 starts, Alomar in 23 of 77.

"I don't really have anything to say about it. It's no big deal. It's not going to affect the way I try to play," said Anderson, in a 5-for-31 slump after last night's 1-for-4 outing, and tied for third on the club with 43 strikeouts.

He also had a .305 on-base average before last night, compared to Alomar's .375.

"I'm going to try to eliminate any negative thoughts about it," he said. "I'm usually in a run-scoring mode so it will be a little unfamiliar for me. After the first inning, though, it's all the same."

After batting second in 12 starts, Joe Carter was bumped to seventh, replaced by B. J. Surhoff. Cal Ripken moved up from seventh to fifth, and Eric Davis hit third after missing the previous four games with a bruised right elbow.

"I did it strictly on on-base percentage," Miller said. "We've gone 82 days and we haven't been getting out of the box scoring runs early. Hopefully this will [tick] Brady off and Joe off and maybe they'll get upset and say, 'I don't belong down here.' I hope that happens. But in the meantime, we've got to have somebody getting on base in the front of the lineup.

"This is no blame to Brady, but after 81 days you have to look at the situation and say, 'Let's try to improve it.' That doesn't mean you've given up on anybody."

Davis, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs last night, hadn't played since being hit on the elbow by New York Mets pitcher Rick Reed. He has been wearing a compression sleeve because of bone spurs in the elbow and likely will accept a cortisone shot later this week to reduce swelling and pain.

"It's as good as can be expected under the circumstances. It was feeling relatively good before it got hit," said Davis, still unable to straighten his arm. "It just set me back a little bit."

Orioles officials had contemplated putting Davis on the DL, a move he resisted.

"Who convinced who, that's not important. The important thing is I'm not on the DL," Davis said.

Miller strikes back

Miller addressed the recent criticisms of his club that focused largely on a lack of desire and effort, pulling out a page of statistics and comparing the numbers at this time to last season, when the Orioles went wire-to-wire to win the AL East.

"On June 30 of last year, and we've played four more games this year, we were hitting .271. We're hitting .271 right now," he said. "We're markedly better all across the board. Now if you go to pitching, we've given up 184 more hits and 147 more runs. If anybody can't figure out what the problem is with the ballclub, then somebody's not looking at the numbers.

"I don't know what people want," he added. "Do they want players running around with pompoms when you've lost six in a row? We hit and run, we've stolen bases, Robbie dives headfirst into third base, and yet you read 'heartless' and 'listless.' I don't see anybody not trying."

Miller especially was angered by Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou's comments over the weekend that the Orioles didn't show much heart while being swept in three games.

"I won't comment on that other than to point out that two of his pitchers were sunbathing and almost got killed by a bat when it went flying and landed outside the dugout, and the fact that [Vladimir] Guerrero didn't make it halfway to first base on the last out two times. But I suppose nobody notices that," Miller said.

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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