Gillick may act to balance lineup Right-handed answer to a predominantly lefty batting order being sought

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

August 14, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Not content with making three trades in the past month, the Orioles are pushing to acquire another right-handed hitter as part of their clubhouse renovation for next season.

The club also possesses interest in Oakland Athletics reliever Buddy Groom.

General manager Pat Gillick confirmed before last night's game that several hitters have been made available since clearing waivers last week. "We could use a right-handed hitter for balance, I guess," Gillick said.

Last week's trade for Cincinnati Reds third baseman-outfielder Willie Greene gave the Orioles a decidedly left-handed look. Last night, manager Ray Miller started five left-handed hitters against the Indians' Dwight Gooden and still had Rich Becker and Greene available on the bench. The situation becomes more difficult when the Orioles encounter a left-handed starter and are left with only three bench players, none of whom bats right-handed. Though Gillick called the condition "a little overblown," the Orioles intend to address the situation this winter if not before.

"When you look around, there really aren't a lot of overpowering left-handers in this league, especially with Randy [Johnson] gone," Gillick said.

Miller has no problem playing left fielder B. J. Surhoff and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro daily against left-handed pitching. However, center fielder Brady Anderson (.178) continues to labor against it. With last month's trade of Joe Carter to San Francisco and Monday's trade of Jeffrey Hammonds, Eric Davis remains the club's only right-handed-hitting outfielder. Miller admitted yesterday he is concerned about the wear that regular outfield play may have on Davis.

Both Surhoff and Davis, pending free agents, are expected to re-sign. If so, the club envisions Davis assuming a heavier role as designated hitter next season, making the acquisition of another outfielder a priority.

The Orioles have had persistent interest in Groom, who has pitched capably for a team in need of prospects. Groom is 3-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 58 games. In 46 1/3 innings, he has allowed 62 base runners and struck out 27.

Kamieniecki status in doubt

While Scott Kamieniecki will start Sunday night's game against the Indians, Miller refused to commit on his status beyond that. Kamieniecki still pitches with discomfort in his upper back, a byproduct of a herniated disk that has required traction. Kamieniecki will undergo an examination by team doctors when the club returns home next week. Miller says "it can be iffy to judge [Kamieniecki]" because of his uncertain status. He pitched six solid innings Tuesday night in Tampa Bay but failed to receive a decision in a 2-1 loss.

Of Kamieniecki's condition, Miller says it still "tweaks" him. He has made three starts since returning from a two-month stay on the disabled list because of the disk condition.

If the problem worsens, the timing of next week's examination dovetails with Doug Drabek's possible return from a strained left hamstring. Drabek is eligible for the roster on Monday but any move likely will be postponed at least 24 hours.

Greene waits his turn

Greene received a trade-off when he came from Cincinnati. The Orioles extended an outside chance at a postseason berth, but Greene will receive far fewer at-bats than he did with the Reds. "I explained it to him and I'm going to try to get him as many at-bats as I can," Miller said. "I'll say this: He has a lot better speed than I thought."

Greene stole second in his Orioles debut on Tuesday. It remained the Orioles' only stolen base until Palmeiro swiped his ninth base in last night's fourth inning.

Around the horn

Miller said yesterday that reliever Arthur Rhodes will make a rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A Rochester tomorrow at Richmond. Should Rhodes provide the Orioles positive feedback, the club will activate him next Tuesday, necessitating a tough roster decision. Miller yesterday referred to his staff as containing "11 1/2 pitchers" because of Jimmy Key's inflamed left rotator cuff. "Jimmy's available, but I don't want to break him," Miller said.

The Yankees placed waiver claims on Roberto Alomar and Palmeiro, forcing the Orioles to withdraw both names from the waiver wire, according to a report in the New York Times. By rule, neither can now be traded for the rest of the season.

Ticket availability for four of seven games in next week's homestand is good, the fewest being available for the three games against the Indians. For Minnesota, 2,900 tickets remain for Monday and 7,200 for Tuesday. For Tampa Bay, which swept its earlier visit to Camden Yards, 7,100 are left for both Wednesday and Thursday. Only 100 singles are left for Aug. 21 against Cleveland, 600 singles for Aug. 22 and 150 singles for Aug. 23.

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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