CLEVELAND -- As of Tuesday the Orioles may find themselves in the odd position of having too many healthy pitchers. The result may mean an extended stay for Doug Drabek in roster limbo.
Drabek, on the disabled list since Aug. 1 with a strained left hamstring, threw pain-free in the bullpen for 10 minutes before Friday night's game. The news got better yesterday when Drabek's hamstring did not become sore overnight. However, his improved condition doesn't necessarily translate into his being activated today.
"Nobody's said anything to me so I really don't know where I am," Drabek said. "I'm playing it by ear right now. I know the situation is a little complicated."
Out since July 5 with a strained tendon in his left elbow, Arthur Rhodes made a rehab start for Rochester last night in Richmond and pronounced himself "ready" to return. The club is expected to activate him Tuesday and create space by optioning Bobby Munoz back to Triple-A. The crunch occurs with an additional move, which would force manager Ray Miller to either put Jimmy Key on the DL or option Doug Johns. The Orioles plan neither.
"If Jimmy can keep doing what he's been doing, I'd like to keep him," said Miller. "I'm not giving up on Doug. I'm just going to make sure he's 100 percent before we go to him."
Key made his third relief appearance yesterday, retiring the only three hitters he faced and has pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings since going to the bullpen.
Drabek's status will likely improve around Sept. 1, the day rosters may expand to 40. The Orioles currently have Pete Smith and Johns in long relief with Scott Kamieniecki a further possibility should he lose his fifth starter's spot.
Miller has expressed concern about Kamieniecki's disk-related pain. Kamieniecki starts tonight against the Indians but will be re-evaluated by team doctors tomorrow or Tuesday, Miller said. His spot could be delegated to Drabek.
"We're usually the last ones to know about something like this," said Drabek. "I'm waiting for someone to come tell me."
Hoiles going to Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame phoned Orioles director of media relations John Maroon yesterday seeking a piece of memorabilia from catcher Chris Hoiles' double grand slam game Friday night. Hoiles will send a game jersey. Apparently the hunt for a keepsake is more important to the folks in Cooperstown than it is for Hoiles, who met the teen-aged fan who recovered his second grand slam ball but didn't ask her for it.
"She really didn't know what was happening. Apparently the ball rolled to her and she picked it up. Then all these people were running at her," Hoiles said.
Hoiles chose not to engage the young fan in a bargaining session for the souvenir. Instead he signed the ball.
Hoiles will recover his first slam from a Ravenna, Ohio, fan who lTC traded it for two autographed balls and four tickets to today's game.
Of greater significance to Hoiles, his recent offensive surge may earn him greater playing time. He has mostly caught Mike Mussina and Juan Guzman but, according to Miller, may add rookie Sidney Ponson to his workload.
Miller had toyed with finding more at-bats for Hoiles before his breakout this weekend. Now that Hoiles has confirmed Miller's suspicion that he is entering an offensive tear, adjustments will be made to the catching rotation.
Hoiles added two RBIs yesterday to his Friday outburst, giving him 10 in consecutive games. He now has 46 RBIs in 209 at-bats, giving him more RBIs than Roberto Alomar (41) and as many as Brady Anderson. Hoiles and the team's most effective clutch hitter, designated hitter Harold Baines, own almost the exact ratio of RBI to at-bats. Hoiles also has only five fewer RBIs than third baseman Cal Ripken in 247 fewer at-bats.
Around the horn
The Orioles have scored first in 21 of 34 games since the All-Star break. They are 19-2 when scoring first since the break. Playing in his 2,600th consecutive game, Ripken contributed a bunt single during the Orioles' four-run third inning. It was Ripken's second bunt hit this season and salvaged a 1-for-5 game that featured one assist. Ripken has reached base in his last 39 games and 49 of his past 51. Ripken also has hit in 11 of his past 12 games. Catcher Sandy Alomar returned to the Indians' lineup yesterday, one day after asking out of the lineup to sidestep a matchup against Mussina. Alomar is still traumatized by lining a shot off Mussina's forehead May 14. First baseman Rafael Palmeiro was spiked on his left foot during the eighth inning. He remained in the game but limped noticeably. It was a tough day for Palmeiro, the only Orioles starter who went hitless. He also committed his sixth error to begin the Indians' five-run sixth inning. Anderson was hit twice by pitches, making it three in two days and 13 this season, a club high.
In their 27-7 run since the All-Star break, the Orioles have showed an ability to play from ahead, but also to come back to win after blowing leads, with yesterday the biggest example. A look (Orioles' runs listed first):
D .. .. .. Opp .. .. Lead .. .. .T/Def .. .. .. .. Res
7/9 .. .. .Bos .. .. 2-0 .. .. .. 2-2 .. .. .. . W 3-2
7/10 .. .. Bos .. .. 2-1 .. .. .. 2-2 .. .. .. . W 3-2
7/12 .. .. Bos .. .. 4-0 .. .. .. 4-6 .. .. .. . W 11-7
7/19 .. .. Ana .. .. 2-1 .. .. .. 2-4 .. .. .. . W 7-4
7/22 .. .. Oak .. .. 2-1 .. .. .. 2-3 .. .. .. . W 5-4
7/23 .. .. Oak .. .. 3-0 .. .. .. 5-7 .. .. .. . W 9-7
7/24 .. .. Sea .. .. 3-2 .. .. .. 3-3 .. .. .. . W 7-4
7/30 .. .. Det .. .. 4-0 .. .. .. 4-4 .. .. .. . W 6-4
8/5 .. ... Det .. .. 1-0 .. .. .. 1-1 .. .. .. . W 6-1
8/7 .. ... Min .. .. 2-0 .. .. .. 2-5 .. .. .. . W 16-9
8/15 .. .. Cle .. .. 7-1 .. .. .. 8-8 .. .. .. . W 9-8
Pub Date: 8/16/98