Neck soreness forces Webster out of O's lineup W. Greene due 2nd look for lingering back pain


September 09, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A long season caught up to Lenny Webster last night when a strained trapezius muscle forced the Orioles catcher to be scratched from the starting lineup in favor of Chris Hoiles.

Manager Ray Miller was uncertain how long the soreness alongside his neck would prevent Webster from catching, but it is a virtual lock that Charlie Greene will receive his second major-league start this afternoon.

"I don't know if I slept on it wrong or it was the plane flight, but there's no way I can throw with it this way," said Webster.

Webster has dealt with neck soreness sporadically throughout his career. However, he could recall missing only one other game in his career because of it.

"There was a time in Minnesota [playing with the Twins] that I couldn't go," Webster said. "It's been awhile since it's been this bad."

Webster, projected as a backup to Hoiles this spring, has emerged as the Orioles' starting catcher due to a combination of career-best offensive numbers and the team's need for a deterrent against opposing base stealers. He has appeared in a career-high 100 games, hitting .272 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. Webster has made 72 starts compared to 71 by Hoiles.

Miller said he considered starting Greene last night, but thought the presence of left-hander Doug Johns might give Hoiles a better chance to control the A's running game.

Second look at W. Greene

Right fielder Willie Greene remains sidelined by a strained back muscle and will be examined further when the Orioles return home tomorrow.

Greene, who has not played the last six games and is unable to run, has been limited to 28 at-bats since being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 14. Greene sustained the injury beating out an infield single last month and aggravated it Aug. 28 when he slipped on the rubberizedsurface near the right-field railing at Camden Yards while attempting a throw.

The club has ordered an MRI for Greene because they believe the initial diagnosis may be only partially correct. There is suspicion a muscle may have detached from Greene's pelvis, a condition that may necessitate surgery.

Regardless, Greene's availability for the rest of the season is in doubt. He has been confined to pinch hitting chores in six of his last seven appearances.

"I don't know if it just needs rest or something else," said Greene.

If the condition is not found to be more serious, he could accept a cortisone injection and play out the year.

How the rotation turns

Miller and pitching coach Mike Flanagan are still unsure about how the rotation will fall the rest of the season.

But based on Rocky Coppinger's 2 2/3 -inning effort in relief Monday in Seattle, Miller may reconsider giving him a start during the upcoming homestand. Instead, he may keep Coppinger in the bullpen to fill the role of the additional right-handed reliever that Miller has pushed for over the last month.

"The way he looked [Monday] maybe he fits well there," said Miller. "I might want to look at him more in that role."

Coppinger's velocity remained below where it was before he underwent shoulder and elbow surgery last August.

However, Miller was impressed by his aggressiveness against a powerful lineup. Coppinger struck out three, including All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

Remembering Rex

Fifty years ago today, the late Rex Barney, a longtime Orioles public address announcer, pitched a 2-0, no-hit victory for the hTC Brooklyn Dodgers over the Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Orioles today

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum

Time: 3:15 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Juan Guzman (9-14, 4.33) vs. Athletics' Jimmy Haynes (10-7, 4.70)

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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