Alomar's play pains Tigers Despite pinkie injury, 2nd baseman delivers with HR and 2 RBIs

August 06, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

To say that one is playing with pain in the pinkie is enough to inspire laughter. Unless the subject is Roberto Alomar and his performance during the Orioles' 6-1 win over the Detroit Tigers yesterday at Camden Yards.

Because while the All-Star second baseman is still suffering from a sprained pinkie, he made Tigers pitcher Justin Thompson hurt even more.

"It hurt," Alomar said after driving in two runs, collecting two hits and making a pair of fine plays in the infield. "It's going to hurt for a while."

Go ahead and laugh. Because, yes, it hurt when he -- as the first Orioles batter to face Thompson -- slammed the ball 418 feet to center, giving his team a 1-0 lead.

Continue to laugh, as Alomar snares a hard-hit ball from Tony Clark and uses that poor pinkie to pitch the ball to Mike Bordick, starting a double play that ends a Tigers threat in the sixth.

And laugh, if you will, later that inning, as he knocks in the go-ahead run -- Chris Hoiles -- with a single to right. And laugh as Alomar shovels the ball to first baseman Rafael Palmeiro to complete a photo-finish putout of Bobby Higginson in the ninth inning.

"That's why he's the best," Palmeiro said of Alomar, who was playing in his second game since suffering a sprained right pinkie finger and being placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 19.

Though he isn't at full strength, he says he's back because with the Orioles going strong, he wanted to be a reason for it, not a spectator of it.

"It's good to be back," Alomar said. "The finger's getting better, but I'm glad to be part of a winning streak."

As a matter of fact, Alomar seemed most engaging when talking about the performance of former teammate Juan Guzman, who pitched seven strong innings and got the win.

"It feels like old times in Toronto," said Alomar.

The team didn't die in the week it had to go without him, but other Orioles acknowledged that Alomar was a nice luxury to have returned to them.

"We were playing well without him," Orioles outfielder B.J. Surhoff said. "But obviously he hits the ball well, and anytime you get a guy like him back, it helps, and adds strength to your bench."

So he will gut it out for now, as his finger will undergo icing following each game, as it tends to swell, he said.

He also puts a pad on the knob on the bat, which blunts some of the pain when he hits from the left side of the plate, though that was not available to him when he hit the leadoff home run right-handed.

These are distinctions Alomar can't really afford to make, he says, as he tries to enjoy the game.

"[The pad] helps me be a little more comfortable, but I can't think about my pinkie," Alomar said. "I just go out there and have fun, just go out and swing the bat."

Aside from that, he says, there's not much that he can do, and says that nothing's going to happen to the pinkie while playing that couldn't happen if it were completely healed.

With a temporary reprieve from speculation on his future whereabouts, Alomar seems carefree with regard to the long-term status of his pinkie, satisfied to let it be determined by fate.

"I can't worry about that," Alomar said. "My trainer's been giving me good advice, but you never know."

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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