Wing still sore, Rhodes won't fly with team Drabek sent to bullpen

wincing Hammonds pulled

July 27, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Reliever Arthur Rhodes won't accompany the Orioles on their six-game road trip that begins tomorrow in Detroit. He has asked to stay behind to see a therapist and continue treatments for an inflamed flexor tendon in his left elbow.

Rhodes remains on the disabled list, still unable to throw because of persistent pain. His progress has come in being able to perform some strength exercises.

"We're going by what he tells us. He's kind of our guide at this point," said trainer Richie Bancells.

"He has good strength, good range of motion, all those things clinically that look good to us, so we're just going by what he tells us the pain situation is. The area is much smaller, not as tender, but it's still there somewhat. He indicated to us he wanted to stay home. We don't think he'll be throwing until we get back from the trip. Inflammation of a tendon takes time. As long as he tells us he feels pain, we don't think it's prudent to have him try to throw."

An MRI on Rhodes' elbow showed an old bone chip that Bancells said isn't related to his present condition. "That's a nonfactor," he said.

Manager Ray Miller won't rush Rhodes even though the reliever's absence creates a void in the bullpen. The left-hander ranked third in the American League with 57 1/3 relief innings when he went on the DL July 13, and had allowed only six earned runs in his past 12 appearances covering 28 innings.

"He's too young a guy to mess with his future," Miller said of the 28-year-old left-hander.

Drabek to bullpen

With Scott Kamieniecki rejoining the rotation and the Orioles having three off days over the next two weeks, including today's Hall of Fame Game, Doug Drabek will be pitching out of the bullpen. He's listed as Thursday's starter in Detroit, but that's subject to change.

Jimmy Key will be activated while the club is in Detroit and could replace Drabek.

"He was quite professional about it," Miller said of Drabek's reaction to changing roles. "Whatever it takes to win, that's Dougie."

Signed as a free agent over the winter to stabilize the fifth spot in the rotation, Drabek has won once since defeating Texas on May 28. He didn't get a decision in his last start, giving up five runs in 4 2/3 innings against Oakland on Thursday. He hasn't been used in relief since a lone relief appearance with Pittsburgh in August 1989, getting the win against Chicago.

Key pitched six innings at Single-A Frederick on Friday and is ready to come off the DL.

Caution with Hammonds

Miller removed Jeffrey Hammonds in the sixth inning, over the right fielder's objections. Miller said he noticed Hammonds wincing as he swung through a pitch, still experiencing some discomfort in his left hand, and didn't want him aggravating the condition while trying to catch up to one of Jamie Moyer's changeups.

"Jeffrey's a little upset. He wants to play," Miller said of the outfielder, who was on the disabled list from June 2 to July 11 with a herniated disk. "He doesn't want anybody talking about him being injured, but I think it's the right thing to do. Maybe we can platoon [Rich] Becker and [Lyle] Mouton and give him three or four days to get that hand completely sound."

Hammonds was making his second consecutive start since leaving a July 13 game in Toronto after feeling some tingling down his left arm while striking out.

Ripken keeps tinkering

One day after unveiling a new stance, Cal Ripken made another change, going back to keeping his left foot flatter before striding into the pitch, rather than tiptoed and pointed inward. He lined a single to right in his first at-bat and doubled to center in the sixth.

Ripken had doubled and walked twice the previous day with a more closed stance that shifted all his weight to his back foot. He was hitting .231 (24-for-104) in his past 24 games before the weekend.

"I'm tinkering, just trying to find something that works, like always," said Ripken, who's hitting .259 for the season.

Smith makes 'pen impact

The intent earlier this month was for Pete Smith to find a comfort zone in the bullpen, then perhaps rejoin the rotation without carrying the added pressure he brought from San Diego after being acquired in a trade last month.

Smith has pitched in relief five times for the Orioles since struggling in four starts, allowing only one run in 9 1/3 innings. He has given up nine hits, walked two and struck out three -- quality numbers that won't remove him from the bullpen.

"I like having a breaking ball guy come out of there, a guy who can throw strikes. He's done a good job for us there," Miller said.

"I know [Terry] Mathews probably could have done a better job if he was healthy and didn't have the track record of everything that happened here, but when you come in throwing hard, fastballs and sliders, you have a chance of getting nailed. But if you've got a guy who can come in and change speeds and throw the breaking ball, you've got a chance of getting out of the inning. That's what [Smith's] done for us very well."

Waiting on Baines

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