Does home run derby fit Palmeiro? Newly named All-Star urged by Anderson to enter

Orioles Notebook

Hammonds rehab plan set

July 04, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Orioles manager Ray Miller said earlier this week that he wanted to spend the All-Star break sitting on the porch of his Ohio home. He wants to forget about baseball, other than perhaps checking out the home run hitting contest, where tape-measure blasts are anticipated in the thin Denver air.

If Miller tunes in, he probably will see Rafael Palmeiro.

The Orioles first baseman said yesterday that he hadn't decided whether to participate in Monday's slugfest, but was getting pressure from at least one teammate to do so.

"Brady [Anderson] just got all over me. He thinks I should do it," he said at his locker before last night's game against the New York Yankees. "I'm considering it, how's that? I'm giving it strong consideration."

Palmeiro learned of his inclusion among the AL reserves from a phone call from Miller about 10: 30 p.m. Thursday. John Maroon, the club's director of public relations, notified Miller and asked if he wanted to pass along the news.

"I had the pleasure of calling Raffy," Miller said. "He asked, 'Why?' I said, 'I guess somebody couldn't make it, but disregarding all that you're certainly deserving of it and I'm happy for you.' "

Palmeiro replaces Boston's Mo Vaughn, who is unable to play because of a strained hamstring.

No apologies necessary. Palmeiro's numbers show he's a worthy selection. With an 0-for-4 last night, he is batting .296 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs. He was named the AL's Player of the Month for June, and tied a career high with homers in four straight games.

"I wasn't expecting it. It was a total shock," he said of the All-Star selection. "I knew [Vaughn] was hurt, but I felt it wasn't that bad that he was going to miss the game. I never did get my hopes up. I'm looking forward to it."

Palmeiro has appeared in two other All-Star games, both times as a reserve. He replaced an injured Mark McGwire in 1991 while playing for Texas, and also was chosen in 1988 during his first full season in the majors with the Chicago Cubs. He doesn't have an official at-bat, walking twice.

Minors next for Hammonds

Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds will begin his rehab assignment Thursday either at Double-A Bowie or Single-A Frederick while the Orioles return from the All-Star break to begin a four-game series against Boston at Camden Yards.

Hammonds has been on the disabled list since June 3 with a nerve irritation in his neck that the club said caused the muscle spasms in his back. He has recently been able to throw in the outfield, run the bases and swing in the cage, though not against live pitching.

How will the Orioles clear a spot for Hammonds when he returns? "Good question. We'll figure out something," Miller said.

One possibility is releasing Rich Becker, who is 3-for-15 with no extra-base hits in 10 games since being claimed off waivers from the New York Mets.

The club also could put Eric Davis on the disabled list because of bone chips in his right elbow. Unable to throw, he's been restricted to serving as designated hitter since being hit on the elbow by the Mets' Rick Reed June 24.

Benitez: Bronx cheer?

Despite what is certain to bring a hostile reaction from fans here, Miller said before the game that he won't shy away from using Armando Benitez in this series.

Benitez hasn't pitched against the Yankees since inciting a brawl on May 19 and earning an eight-game suspension for hitting Tino Martinez in the back after surrendering a game-turning home run to Bernie Williams. Benitez wasn't used during the three games last month at Camden Yards.

"I'll bring him in," Miller said. "I don't know how he's going to handle it. I would think he'd handle it all right, but I don't know. I guess nobody will know until we do."

Miller stopped short of saying he'd allow Benitez to face Martinez. "It would be interesting. I'll just have to wait until that time comes. Preferably, I'd like for him to get somebody out before that and then bring in Jesse [Orosco], but I don't know. We'll have to wait and see."

Benitez warmed in the eighth -- a scoreboard announcement brought the expected boos -- and ninth innings, but Miller stuck with left-hander Orosco, who gave up the winning hit to right-handed-hitting Scott Brosius.

Around the horn

The Yankees were short several pitchers. Left-hander Mike Stanton began serving his five-game suspension for hitting Davis last month and right-hander Ramiro Mendoza was unavailable with an inflamed knee. The Orioles signed outfielder Lyle Mouton to a minor-league contract. Mouton, 29, who was playing in Japan after hitting .269 with five home runs for the Chicago White Sox last season, will be assigned to Triple-A Rochester. The right-handed hitter had batted .294 and .302 the previous two seasons, playing a combined 145 games. Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who jammed his right knee Thursday, may play today.

Pub Date: 7/04/98

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