Baines, Alomar bat and feel no pain Pair expected to return next week

Orioles Notebook

Key to bullpen

August 01, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Amid all the trade bantering that took place yesterday, Orioles manager Ray Miller also received some good news concerning three of his injured players.

Harold Baines took early batting practice before last night's game against Kansas City and said he felt no pain in his left hamstring. Barring any setbacks, he expects to be activated from the disabled list by Tuesday, when the Orioles begin a two-game series against Detroit at Camden Yards before returning to the road for 10 days.

Also yesterday, Miller received favorable reports on second baseman Roberto Alomar and reliever Arthur Rhodes.

Baines has been on the DL since July 11 after aggravating a strained hamstring, an injury that originated June 22 in New York. He leads the club in hitting with a .328 average after Eric Davis went 1-for-4 last night to fall to .327.

Baines hit for about 15 minutes and plans to take some more cuts today. "It felt very good. The test will be [today], if I have no soreness. But it went pretty good for not swinging for 2 1/2 weeks," he said.

Miller came away impressed after watching Baines. "He took 50 or 60 swings and knocked the [heck] out of the ball. From what I saw, I wish we could [activate] him today, but I want to make sure that leg is all right."

Rhodes, on the DL since July 13 with a strained left elbow, was feeling well enough to ease back into throwing again. He was scheduled to throw off a wall or screen today with a therapist, trainer Richie Bancells said.

And Alomar, eligible to leave the DL on Monday's off day, tested his injured right pinkie by hitting off live pitching from both sides.

"He didn't have any pain. He felt great," Miller said.

An even dozen for Reboulet

With Alomar out, Jeff Reboulet made his 12th straight start. He said the transition to everyday player hasn't been too difficult except for occasional aches and pains.

"I know I don't need the days off," he said, laughing. "Once you get by those first couple of days, you feel better."

Reboulet also is more comfortable with the way he's playing, the rust from sitting for so long having been shaken loose. Before being robbed of a hit by center fielder Johnny Damon and going 0-for-3 last night, he had hit safely in four straight games, going 7-for-17, and in seven of his last eight. He has hit .284 (23-for-81) in his last 30 games with an at-bat.

"It takes a little while, but it comes back to you," said Reboulet, who walked twice, once with the bases loaded. "I'm not an offensive juggernaut, but I do the little things to help the team win."

Key yields to Guzman

Yesterday's acquisition of Toronto right-hander Juan Guzman has bumped Jimmy Key from the rotation, though it's uncertain for how long.

Guzman will take Key's turn Wednesday against the Tigers at Camden Yards, leaving the veteran left-hander available to pitch in relief "for a week or so," said Miller, whose club has two off days next week. Key struggled through three innings Thursday, throwing 80 pitches in his first start since May 20.

"Jimmy was pretty disappointed," Miller said, "but we were happy to have a veteran guy on the mound because he made some good pitches. I think Jimmy's going to be fine as long as he's healthy. There didn't seem to be any setbacks arm-wise."

Key had been much sharper during his six rehab innings at Single-A Frederick on July 24.

"This was the first time he really came out flat," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan.

Miller called Key into his office to explain the rotation change, making sure there were no misunderstandings.

Watching Mussina

The Orioles continue to monitor their ace, Mike Mussina, who complained of tightness in his right hamstring during Wednesday's start in Detroit.

Mussina gets additional time to rest it because of the off days next week. "We're just looking at it day by day, seeing how he feels about it," Flanagan said.

"I saw him out there early today, moving around a little bit, testing it. Hopefully we can put it behind us, but sometimes those things linger on."

Mussina received treatment yesterday and rode the stationary bike in the visitor's clubhouse.

Royals put Conine on DL

The Royals put outfielder Jeff Conine on the 15-day disabled list and called up third baseman Scott Leius from Triple-A Omaha.

Leius, 32, was hitting .292 with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 67 games at Omaha. Conine, hitting .267 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs, has been slowed by a sore back.

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