Hammonds stops by, asked to stay Outfielder activated early from rehab

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Baines on DL

July 12, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds arrived at Camden Yards yesterday with the intention of taking batting practice and showing everyone that he was healthy enough to play if needed. A short time later, he was needed.

The Orioles activated Hammonds before yesterday's game and placed Harold Baines on the disabled list. Hammonds had spent the previous two nights in New Britain, Conn., with Double-A Bowie while rehabbing from a disk-related nerve irritation in his neck. He hadn't appeared in a game with the Orioles since being used as a pinch runner June 2, and hadn't batted since May 31.

Hammonds was 2-for-6 with Bowie, including three stolen bases and three runs scored. "The big thing at Bowie was to not hold back. Steal bases, slide, dive, whatever," he said. "If something was going to happen, it would have happened."

The nerve disorder caused severe muscle spasms in Hammonds' back. Though referring to the condition as "a live wire, for all I know," he dismissed surgery as an option. He will, however, need to take certain measures, like weight work and special exercises, to keep his back stabilized.

"I'm healthy," said Hammonds, who did not play yesterday. "I have no fears of anything happening. I'll take the game as it comes to me and have fun. I missed that."

Manager Ray Miller said he wanted Hammonds to play two more games at Bowie, but his arrival yesterday and Baines' injury changed the equation.

Hammonds wasn't aware that Baines had aggravated his strained left hamstring Friday. Baines, making his first start since suffering the injury June 22, avoided an earlier trip to the disabled list because the club didn't have a viable option in the minors.

Friday, Baines had rounded second on a single by Rafael Palmeiro, then stopped abruptly and headed back to the bag. "I thought it had healed, but it wasn't completely healed, I guess," he said, adding that the leg was in the same condition as when he injured it in New York. "I know I can't run, but I never could do that."

Said Miller: "It's higher than the one before. He probably was favoring where it was and aggravated it a little higher. [Trainer] Richie Bancells said with the condition of his knees and all, it's going to take time."

Baines was replaced Friday by Eric Davis, who homered in the eighth inning to give the Orioles a 3-2 win. Davis was the designated hitter yesterday, going 0-for-4 and stranding five runners. He hasn't played in the outfield since being hit on the right elbow by the Mets' Rick Reed on June 24, but Miller said he'll be in right field today.

Key extends himself

Jimmy Key extended his second bullpen session from five to 13 minutes yesterday and threw all his pitches.

"Everything went fine," he said. "I'll take one or two days. I'll see how it feels [today], maybe throw again Monday or Tuesday."

Key hasn't pitched since going on the disabled list retroactive to May 21 with inflammation in his left rotator cuff. "It's not getting any worse, so that's progress," he said.

Said Miller: "Hopefully we'll get Jimmy out there in a week to 10 days and get him a couple [rehab] starts."

Another missing piece of the rotation, Scott Kamieniecki, also threw in the bullpen yesterday. He went three innings for Bowie on Thursday and is expected to make at least two more rehab starts.

Reboulet as leadoff

Jeff Reboulet batted leadoff yesterday for the first time since June 20, 1995, while with Minnesota. He hit either eighth or ninth in his 13 previous starts this year.

Reboulet replaced Roberto Alomar at second base and atop the order. Alomar has complained of some back stiffness since playing eight innings in Tuesday's All-Star Game and then flying back from Denver. Miller also didn't want Alomar's mechanics to get out of whack trying to hit Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

"When you haven't played in 20 days, you aren't throwing me off much," said Reboulet, making only his third start since June 5.

Reboulet had been 3-for-5 lifetime against Wakefield, compared to Alomar's 2-for-14. He struck out in the first inning and was hit on the left elbow by a knuckleball leading off the third, causing some puffiness. He lifted a sacrifice fly to right field with the bases loaded and none out in the fourth, and popped up in the sixth.

Reboulet also made a diving stop of a sharp grounder up the middle by Reggie Jefferson for the first out in the seventh, drawing a loud ovation from the fans. "Rebs seems to find a way to do things every time he gets in a game," Miller said.

Alomar, named the All-Star Game's MVP, is in a 9-for-55 slump, lowering his average from .314 to .290. He had appeared in every game until yesterday.

Around the horn

Yesterday's crowd of 48,244 was the third-largest for a regular-season game at Camden Yards. Today's crowd will assure a record for the largest attendance for a four-game series. Friday's crowd of 48,043 pushed attendance past the 2 million mark. Cal Ripken tied Goose Goslin for 44th place on TTC baseball's all-time runs list with 1,483. The Orioles hit 111 home runs in their first 90 games, the same total as last year at that time. But they scored 45 fewer runs and allowed 123 more. The team ERA rose from 3.63 to 5.09.

Pub Date: 7/12/98

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