All it took were two games for Willis Otanez to catch the injury bug that has swept through the Orioles' clubhouse. Outfielder Danny Clyburn can only hope he's more immune.
Clyburn was recalled from Triple-A Rochester yesterday when Otanez went on the disabled list with a fractured left wrist. Otanez, who is lost for the remainder of the season, suffered the injury Thursday night while diving for a first-inning fly ball from Chicago's Albert Belle. It was his second major-league appearance, and it ended the club's outfield experiment.
Otanez had played mostly third base at Rochester until moving to right field two days before being brought up Saturday when pitcher Scott Kamieniecki went on the disabled list. Clyburn, on the other hand, is accustomed to playing the outfield, though he's regarded as below average defensively.
Manager Ray Miller won't let reputations determine who's out there. Eric Davis is vulnerable to runners taking an extra base because of soreness in both hamstrings and a tender right elbow. Brady Anderson isn't near full speed because of a slightly torn tendon in his right knee. Clyburn, 24, provides a healthy body and another right-handed-hitting option besides Davis.
"He's a massively strong man. It's impressive to watch him take BP," Miller said.
As for Clyburn's defensive shortcomings, Miller said he received a positive report from Red Wings manager Marv Foley. "Foley's exact words were, 'He's improved quite a lot. He's still going to have his days, but he's improved quite a lot, and he works very hard at it.'
"These big, strong outfielders, their defensive ability is kind of noticeable when they're not hitting. If they're pounding the ball, then you hear, 'That guy's a good player.' You don't hear too much about [Jose] Canseco playing the outfield with 30-some home runs."
Clyburn got a late start on the season after fracturing his left foot in spring training. He was hitting .286 with 14 homers and 54 RBIs in 84 games at Rochester.
Last year, Clyburn earned a promotion to Baltimore on Sept. 15 after hitting .300 and leading the Red Wings with 33 doubles, 20 homers and 76 RBIs.
His major-league debut came that night as a pinch-hitter. He appeared in two games for the Orioles, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"He struggled a little when he was here last year," Miller said, "but that was just because of a better grade of pitching, being able to work him a little bit better."
Otanez sat in front of his locker before last night's loss wearing a cast on the hand, which was in a sling. He was waiting to be examined again by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs.
"Can you believe that? I can't believe that," he said, looking at the cast. "You never know what's going to happen."
Miller draped an arm around Otanez and provided comfort. "I told him not to worry and said, 'You've earned your shot here and you'll be here next year. You've shown me that you can be a good major-league player, so relax and travel with the club. Sit back and help me manage or something.' "
Anderson returns to lineup
Anderson returned to the lineup last night after being held out of Thursday's loss in Chicago. In both instances, Miller was playing the percentages rather than using the injury report as a guide. He sat Anderson against White Sox left-hander Jim Parque and started him against Kansas City right-hander Pat Rapp.
Anderson received more treatment yesterday. Miller was prepared to insert Rich Becker in center field if Anderson had said he wasn't available. Anderson went 0-for-3 with a walk.
All the injuries and lineup juggling reminded Miller of the season's first half. But the difference comes Tuesday when rosters can be expanded.
"We'll have some bodies to take a little stress off," Miller said.
Miller caught off guard
Miller said he was "shocked" to read yesterday about catcher Chris Hoiles' chronic hip and lower back pain, perhaps associated with a disk condition, that occasionally causes him numbness in his left leg.
Hoiles was quoted in The Sun as saying the condition hasn't improved despite daily treatments, and he would change positions "in a heartbeat" if it would assure him more at-bats.
"I knew he's been having problems, but I didn't know it was public. Apparently it is now," Miller said, adding that Hoiles would be in the lineup tonight.
"I was going to catch him [yesterday] until I read the paper. I've known about that, but I was trying to keep it relatively quiet because you don't like to tell the opposition that you have any problems. But it's out there."
The Royals ran wild on the Orioles during their series in Kansas City four weeks ago. They stole eight bases with Hoiles catching in an Aug. 1 game, including four by Jose Offerman.
Hoiles has expressed an interest in playing first base, but Miller said he's "not particularly in any hurry to rest" Rafael Palmeiro, who hit his 40th homer Thursday and 41st last night.