Pain-in-the-neck season ends early for Kamieniecki Oft-injured pitcher goes home to await disk surgery

Orioles notebook

September 05, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Scott Kamieniecki's painful season officially closed yesterday when the Orioles announced that their deposed fourth starter will undergo disk surgery later this month.

Kamieniecki, who did not accompany the team on its current road trip, will return to this Flint, Mich., home today then undergo further examination at Case Western University on Sept. 13.

He is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery on Sept. 15. Kamieniecki was examined in Cleveland Aug. 17 by Dr. Henry Bohlman. Kamieniecki has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in the right trapezius region near his neck.

After going 10-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 1997, Kamieniecki has endured three stays on the disabled list with groin, elbow and disk problems this season. He was on the disabled list at some point every month this year.

Kamieniecki could not be reached for comment.

After signing a two-year, $6.3 million contract last winter, Kamieniecki, 34, has endured little except misery. He struggled through spring training and has dealt with pain in his neck for most of the season.

He finishes with a 2-6 record and 6.75 ERA. After striking out 109 against 67 walks in 1997, Kamieniecki was among the handful of pitchers with at least 10 starts to amass more walks (26) than strikeouts (25) this season.

A three-month rehabilitation is anticipated, but manager Ray Miller is not prepared to project Kamieniecki's return to the rotation next season. The Orioles intend to pursue a fifth starting pitcher this winter.

"You really can't say anything for sure until you know what you've got," said Miller.

Drabek ponders future

Having made only one start since July 23, Doug Drabek says his September performance represents only "5 to 10 percent" of a decision whether to retire following the season.

Drabek, 36, is 6-10 with a 7.05 ERA in 21 games this season. A pending free agent, Drabek has one win since May 28 and says he is increasingly torn between pushing for a 13th season or retiring to his Houston home with his wife and three children.

"It's more of a family decision than anything," he said. "My boys are getting to the age [11 and 12] when they are accomplishing things in sports I'd like to be a part of."

Drabek has been fortunate for most of his career. His family has spent summers with him, either in Pittsburgh or in Houston, until the last two years.

"The decision comes down to whether it's worth more to my family for me to do this for another season or to be around them full time," he said.

Drabek will earn $1.8 million this year. His prospects will certainly be slimmer next spring when he may not receive a guaranteed deal. "Who knows, no one may want me next year," said the former Cy Young Award winner now facing the final steps of a solid career. "That would make the decision real easy."

Around the horn

With his 383rd homer, Cal Ripken took over 34th place on the career list, one ahead of Jim Rice and Frank Howard. Ripken's 1,510th career RBI moved him past Mickey Mantle into 35th place. Miller has named Drabek to start in place of the injured Sidney Ponson on Monday. Ponson left Wednesday's game with XTC a ruptured blister on his right index finger and is expected to miss a start. Mike Mussina will rejoin the club today after his wife, Jana, gave birth to the couple's first child together. Brycen Cole Mussina was born Thursday night, weighing 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Mussina will start tomorrow on five days' rest. Bowie first baseman Calvin Pickering and Delmarva left-hander Matt Riley were named the organization's players of the month for August. Slumping B. J. Surhoff was out of the starting lineup for the second time in three games, but got into the game, doubling in the ninth inning. The Orioles hit three homers in one inning for the fourth time this season. Miller suggested that a decision on additional call-ups would be made Monday. The Orioles must first restructure their 40-man roster.

Pub Date: 9/05/98

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