Forbes in, Bennett out to fill Alomar void Second baseman gets shot at bigs

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

pitcher back in limbo

July 22, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

With Roberto Alomar apparently unable to play for at least another week but dodging the disabled list, the Orioles added some infield insurance yesterday by purchasing the contract of P. J. Forbes from Triple-A Rochester. To make room for Forbes, pitcher Joel Bennett was designated for assignment.

Alomar sprained a joint in his right pinkie while diving into second base Saturday in Anaheim. Unable to bend the finger the next day, he has regained some flexibility. But trainer Richie Bancells said in the best-case scenario, Alomar will need another week before he can grip a bat.

"And then you've got to tack on a few more days after that before he's ready to play," Bancells said.

Said Alomar: "It's getting a little better. I can bend it now, just not all the way. If I can't grip a bat, I'm not going to play."

By bringing up Forbes, manager Ray Miller isn't locked into starting Jeff Reboulet at second base and Mike Bordick at shortstop while Alomar is out. "It keeps Robbie active for a week here so we can see what his status is. If he can come back, we don't have to lose him for 15 days," Miller said.

Forbes, 30, was batting .312 (112-for-359) with 34 doubles, six homers and 44 RBIs at Rochester. He had hit in 12 of his last 13 games, batting .375 (21-for-56) during that span.

Primarily a second baseman, he also played 10 games at short and a few at third, and moved to the outfield in spring training, when he batted .333 (6-for-18) as a nonroster invitee. He's spent all 8 1/2 of his pro seasons in the minors.

His promotion continues a string of moves by the organization at the position in the past week. The Orioles bumped up infielder Jerry Hairston to Double-A Bowie, switching him from shortstop to second base, and moved second baseman Jesse Garcia to Rochester.

"I'm just trying to make an impression. That's how I viewed it in spring training and that's how I view this," said Forbes, who played second in the ninth inning last night.

Bennett, who was called up July 13 when reliever Arthur Rhodes went on the DL, barely could mask his disappointment as he sat at his locker. He was 10-0 at Rochester, one win shy of tying the record for best start in Red Wings' history, and coming off a victory in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Finally in the big leagues after 7 1/2 seasons in the minors, he's back in limbo.

"It's like it happened overnight," said Bennett, 28, who allowed one run and walked three in two innings. "They told me Robbie was hurt and they didn't want to put him on the DL. There's nobody with options left [for the minors]. Hopefully something positive will come out of it. There are plenty of jobs out there."

"I hope nobody claims him," Miller said, "but I think they will."

The roster move leaves the Orioles with 11 pitchers for the first time this season.

Kamieniecki to start

The Orioles officially get one of their injured starters back when Scott Kamieniecki is handed the ball Saturday against Seattle. And he soon could be joined in the rotation by Jimmy Key, who is scheduled to pitch in Friday's game at Single-A Frederick.

Kamieniecki, on the DL since May 23 with a bulging disk, threw 64 pitches in a five-inning start at Double-A Bowie on Sunday. Miller said he hopes Kamieniecki can give him five or six innings Saturday, "or as much as seven."

With the schedule including Monday's Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown, N.Y., and two off days the following week, Kamieniecki is being eased back into the rotation.

"He could have six days' rest the next time and it could be as much as nine after that," Miller said. "That's pleasing to me because we're not just throwing him four days, four days, four days."

Key, recovering from an inflamed left rotator cuff, threw five simulated innings Sunday in Anaheim. He's expected to go at least three innings in Frederick, and could rejoin the Orioles for an Aug. 2 start in Kansas City.

Nerio Rodriguez has been moved to the bullpen and appears destined for Rochester as Kamieniecki, Key and Rhodes make their returns.

He's 1-3 with a 7.88 ERA in five games, including four starts. Most recently, he allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings of an 8-3 loss in Anaheim on Saturday. Before that, he tossed a one-hit shutout over six innings against Toronto.

Rhodes to test elbow again

Bancells said Rhodes might attempt to play catch either today or tomorrow to test the strained tendon in his left elbow.

Rhodes was eligible to come off the DL yesterday, but had complained of sharp pain in the elbow while throwing in the outfield for five minutes Friday in Anaheim. Pitching coach Mike Flanagan had to call off Sunday's session.

Rhodes was third among American League relievers with 57 1/3 innings when he went on the DL.

Around the horn

The Orioles expect Harold Baines to be ready to leave the DL on Monday. He aggravated a strained hamstring July 10. Mike Bordick was 1-for-4 on his 33rd birthday.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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