Tough decision, but Alomar to go on DL As Kamieniecki returns, All-Star MVP ineligible to play until Aug. 2

ORIOLES Notebook

July 25, 1998|By Joe Strauss and Bill Free | Joe Strauss and Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The Orioles will create room for pitcher Scott Kamieniecki this morning by reluctantly placing second baseman Roberto Alomar the disabled list retroactive to July 19 with a lingering finger injury.

The move was agreed upon by manager Ray Miller and the Orioles' front office yesterday when Alomar could not swing without pain before last night's game against the Seattle Mariners.

General manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone met with Alomar before leaving to watch Jimmy Key's rehabilitation assignment in Frederick.

Alomar tried to hit soft toss from coach Carlos Bernhardt but had discomfort in the right pinkie he dislocated last Saturday in Anaheim. Alomar has been unable to swing since a hard slide into second base dislocated the finger, causing swelling. If disabled retroactive to July 19, he would be ineligible to play until Aug. 2, the finale of a five-game trip to Detroit and Kansas City.

Miller lobbied on his behalf to avoid the disabled list. "If there's any chance he could play on the 15th day, I'm willing to not disable him," Miller said.

Gillick said: "We may have to do something with Robby when Kamieniecki comes off."

The decision bears out an earlier suggestion by the team's training staff that Alomar would not be able to hit comfortably until the middle of next week. Alomar contended he would need "only two or three more days." Yesterday's session seemed to prove contradictory.

Night to remember

Want to know exactly how good life has been for Lenny Webster since he stopped the Oakland Athletics late Thursday night with a game-winning two-run homer in the ninth inning that topped off a 4-for-5 performance that included a career-high six RBIs?

"Great," Webster said. "When I left the ballpark, fans saluted my Tahoe truck. The ride home to Owings Mills was a pleasure. My parents called me and said they saw me on the highlights. My phone was ringing all morning and I couldn't sleep. It's nice to get that kind of recognition."

But when the catcher saw the lineup card for last night's game against the Seattle Mariners, he was brought back to earth a little. Six RBIs or not, Miller was still sticking with Chris Hoiles as the usual catcher for Mike Mussina.

"I know how the system works," said Webster, who had hit .400 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in the past 21 games before last night. "But it would be nice if he could slip me in as a DH some time."

To which Miller replied, "It's possible Lenny or Hoiley [Hoiles] both could DH. Keeping both those guys healthy means a lot to our team."

Webster's eight homers this season are a career high. He needs three more RBIs to top his previous best of 37, set in 1997.

Happy return

Kamieniecki couldn't be more relieved that his lost season might finally be getting untracked.

"Just imagine taking the one thing you like doing most in life and being forced to sit there and watch someone else do it," said Kamieniecki, who has endured two stints on the DL and made only seven appearances, as he talked about today's long-awaited return to the mound.

"I don't know if I ever made peace with myself over not being able to pitch for so long. Sure, I thought I might not be able to pitch any more this season and there is still a possibility I might not make it back. I consider myself day-to-day."

Kamieniecki hasn't pitched for the Orioles since May 22 and he hasn't won a game since April 18.

He is trying to fight back this time from a bulging disk in his $$ neck, after going on the disabled list the first time in April with a groin strain and inflammation in his right elbow.

"I have to be confident as I go out there to pitch," said Kamieniecki. "I can't say I'm close to being back. I can either do it or I can't. The team needs to find out right now whether I can pitch. We've dug ourselves a pretty good hole and I don't have any more time to work my way back."

O's love 1999 schedule

"That's much better," said Rafael Palmeiro last night of the 1999 schedule that reduces the team's dreaded two-game series from 19 to two. "That's the way it should be. You barely get into a city before you're leaving."

Reliever Norm Charlton also likes the idea of playing a team's division rivals late in September, which is the way this year's schedule is set up.

"I've always been a firm believer in playing the teams in your division down the stretch because you can control your destiny so to speak," said Charlton.

Hoiles also like the two major schedule changes.

"The major gripe by the players has been the too many two-game series," said Hoiles. "The travel was terrible. This should be a lot better. And it's nice to be ending the season with Boston next year. It will make things a lot more interesting."

Powell talks of stretch runs

Former Orioles slugger Boog Powell walked though the clubhouse last night and talked about the team's sudden turnaround to draw closer to Boston in the wild-card race.

"When you're a player, you always think you have a chance to come back and win it no matter how far back you are," he said. "I know I always thought we could win until we were eliminated. But as a fan you look at a team being 15 1/2 games [the deficit at the All-Star break] out and you say, 'There's no way those guys can do it.' "

Pub Date: 7/25/98

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