Kamieniecki nearly ready to start back Injured pitcher improving, set to rehab at Bowie

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 06, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The Orioles' starting rotation may soon become a less lonely place for Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson.

On the disabled last since May 23 because of a herniated disk, Scott Kamieniecki was impressive enough during yesterday's bullpen session at Yankee Stadium that the club will send him on a rehab assignment Thursday. Kamieniecki will be placed on a 45-pitch limit in the Double-A Bowie Baysox's game at New Britain, Conn.

Manager Ray Miller said he hopes to have Kamieniecki back by month's end. "If we don't," he said, "we're going to need somebody else."

Pitching coach Mike Flanagan raved about Kamieniecki's bullpen session as the right-hander threw his entire assortment, including breaking pitches that had caused him extreme pain before he was put on the DL. Regaining strength now remains the most important element because Kamieniecki has missed seven weeks.

"It went about as well as could be expected," said Kamieniecki. "I'm at the point where it's time to find out. I'm tired of sitting around."

Kamieniecki may make up to three rehab appearances before being activated, Flanagan said.

The prognosis is less clear for Jimmy Key, who has yet to be cleared by the team's medical staff to throw from a mound. Key suffers from an inflamed left rotator cuff that put him on the disabled list May 21.

A club source confirmed this weekend that Kamieniecki and outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds are both suffering from herniated disks rather than a strained muscle, irritated nerve or impingement as previously suggested.

Perhaps as fallout from Cal Ripken's much-scrutinized herniated disk that preoccupied the club for much of last summer, the Orioles have consistently declined to disclose the nature of Kamieniecki's and Hammonds' injuries. Kamieniecki's condition is still listed as "neck stiffness" and Hammonds' is described as zTC "recurring back spasms." Club officials requested that both players not discuss their injuries, and the players have complied.

Hammonds hasn't played since June 1 but may return shortly after the All-Star break. He recently returned from a trip to California, where he consulted a personal physician. Club officials claim no knowledge of the findings.

"It's getting better," said Hammonds, who previously suffered numbness in his hands. "That's the most important thing."

Right-field rumors

The San Francisco Giants continue to follow the Orioles regarding right fielders Joe Carter and Eric Davis. In need of a right-handed-hitting outfielder, they may attempt to trade for either player before the July 31 trading deadline. If so, Carter, who has insisted he will retire after this season, says he is ready to go. Davis remains less enthusiastic.

"That's another one of those things you can't control," said Carter. "If it happens, great. I'd look forward to it. If it doesn't, that's great too, because I'm playing in Baltimore. It's not something that I'm pushing with them."

Davis says he has no desire to leave despite the possibility he may be running out of opportunities to play for a division contender. "People wonder if you want a last chance to win. I've already won," said Davis, a member of the 1990 world champion Cincinnati Reds. "Last chance to win? Why don't you win here? I'm not looking to get on somebody else's bandwagon. To me, if this ship goes down, I'm going down with it."

Appeal to be filed

Miller intends to follow through on his protest of Saturday's 4-3 loss that hinged on a controversial call at third base. He also doesn't expect the protest to go anywhere. Miller plans to file a report accompanied by a video to AL president Gene Budig.

"I know [the protest] won't work because he says it's judgment," said Miller, referring to crew chief Ken Kaiser.

Around the horn

This weekend's signing of outfielder Lyle Mouton to a minor-league contract appears to clear the way for a trade of either Carter or Davis. Mouton had been playing with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Pacific League before requesting his release. He joined the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings yesterday in Buffalo. Mouton, 29, played 88 games for the Chicago White Sox last season, hitting .269 with five home runs and 23 RBIs and is considered a competent defensive player. First baseman Rafael Palmeiro will participate in tonight's All-Star home run-hitting contest at Coors Field. Brady Anderson established a club record for stolen bases in a game with four yesterday. The previous record of three had been accomplished 15 times, most recently by Anderson in 1996. Luis Aparicio stole three bases in a game five times and Don Baylor did it three times.

Pub Date: 7/06/98

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