Wary Miller cuts back on batting practice 'Arm-weary' Surhoff takes fewer swings

Orioles Notebook

Kamieniecki to have disk re-evaluated

August 17, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- The realities of the Orioles' grinding second-half surge have forced several temporary concessions by a veteran clubhouse. On orders from manager Ray Miller, cutbacks were decreed this weekend in the amount of extra hitting taken by some players. Starting position players were prohibited from participating in early hitting yesterday as a tonic for what the manager construed as weariness.

Rich Becker, Jeff Reboulet and Willie Greene were the only hitters to take early hitting yesterday.

"These guys hit every day from February on," said Miller. "I don't think beating up on [batting practice pitcher] Sammy Snider at 3 o'clock is going to made a tremendous difference against Jaret Wright."

Miller became worried at the start of the Indians series about left fielder B. J. Surhoff, along with Rafael Palmeiro and Cal Ripken one of three Orioles to have played in all 123 games. Surhoff entered the series fighting an 11-for-51 slump since July 29 and appeared to have enlarged his hitting zone.

To Miller, much of Surhoff's frustration stemmed from regular early hitting that may also have left him "arm weary." Surhoff cut back Friday and Saturday and finished the series 4-for-10 with two doubles.

In last night's first at-bat Surhoff drove Kenny Lofton to the center-field wall for a sacrifice fly and he later singled.

"It's always available to whoever wants it," hitting coach Rick Down said of early hitting. "However, if it reaches the point where it detracts from a player's game performance, then you certainly don't want to push it. It's up to the individual."

Batting practice is designed not to be a labor-intensive exercise for hitters. They are not required to participate in shagging -- coaches, pitchers and various extras cover the chore -- and are allowed to retreat to the air conditioned clubhouse after their swings.

Kamieniecki to be examined

Only hours after making last night's start against the Indians, Scott Kamieniecki was to have his problematic disk condition evaluated by a Cleveland specialist. Kamieniecki was on the disabled list with a bulging disk from May 23 to July 24. While sidelined he underwent traction and still experiences discomfort the area. Last night's start was his fourth since leaving the disabled list.

Miller remains concerned enough about Kamieniecki's condition that when asked last week about his starting rotation he did not project the right-hander beyond last night.

The Orioles intend to activate left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes as early as tonight. Rhodes has been on the DL since July 5 with a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow and made a successful two-inning rehab start for Triple-A Rochester at Richmond Saturday night. Rhodes surrendered three hits, one walk and one earned run in the outing, in which he faced 10 hitters. The corresponding move will likely be returning Bobby Munoz to Rochester.

Doug Drabek remains on the DL with a strained left hamstring. He became eligible to be activated yesterday but no move is seen as imminent.

Worrying over Davis

Miller is admittedly fretting over what to do with Eric Davis, whose 30-game hitting streak that ended last night has created momentum for him to play despite a nagging hamstring and a sore right elbow. Davis was again in right field batting fourth last night and went 0-for-3 with a walk. He has appeared in every game but one since the All-Star break.

During spring training Miller projected Davis would play in about 100 games. Last night Davis made his 42nd start in right field to go with eight in center field and another 29 as designated hitter. He has appeared in 96 games.

A sudden shortage of right-handed hitting complicates the matter for Miller. Trades involving Joe Carter and Jeffrey Hammonds have cut his options. "Whenever we get a big lead, I'd like to get him out of there," Miller said. "I'd also like to DH him when we get home."

The move may mean some down time for Harold Baines, who also has confronted hamstring problems this season. With Davis at DH, Miller may give Greene additional time in the field.

Around the horn

The Orioles are a staggering 19-3 since the All-Star break when scoring first, though they did so and lost last night. En route to the American League Championship Series in 1996, the Orioles had a 66-56 record after 122 games and trailed the Chicago White Sox by two games for the AL wild card. They are 65-58. The Orioles committed 37 errors in their first 82 games. They have 25 errors in their past 31 games. The Orioles have still allowed only 24 unearned runs, fewest in either league. If they had scored eight runs last night the Orioles would have tied the club record for most runs scored in a four-game series. They scored 39 runs while blasting the Chicago White Sox 5-2, 12-3, 9-0 and 13-2 at Comiskey Park on June 13-15, 1969.

Pub Date: 8/17/98

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