Key in no hurry to decide about '99 Lefty plans 2-month wait as bullpen role beckons

Orioles Notebook

September 25, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Kent Baker contributed to this article.

BOSTON -- Despite receiving encouragement from manager Ray Miller to extend his distinguished career in his newfound role, Jimmy Key says he will wait at least two months to decide whether to pitch out of the bullpen next season. Key concedes an inflamed rotator cuff has ended his days as a starter but is somewhat encouraged by his ability to handle a relief role the last six weeks.

Key's decision: Is enough enough?

"It's something I've got to think about for myself," Key said. "Right now I have no idea what I'll decide. I want to get away from it for a while and see how I feel."

He remains adamant that he will not undergo additional surgery on his left shoulder to extend his career.

Key, 37, will file for free agency after the World Series and insisted, "If I decide to pitch next year, I'll look at all my options, not just here."

Key was unscored upon in his first 10 relief appearances but has suffered damage in three of his last four. He remains a deterrent against left-handed hitting, which has reached him for only a .233 average and two home runs.

Anderson out with thumb

Brady Anderson did not start last night's game because of a week-old thumb injury initially thought to be a fracture. However, Anderson said last night that the thumb is actually sprained and he will reappear before season's end.

"I will promise you one thing," he said before sitting out against RTC Pedro Martinez. "I will not play more than four games the rest of this season."

With three games left, Miller intends to play Anderson tonight vs. knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Palmeiro hunts for numbers

Though he has reached his spring training goals of 40 home runs and 120 RBIs, Rafael Palmeiro enters the final weekend in a power drought. Since slamming his 41st home run Aug. 28, Palmeiro has homered twice in 89 at-bats. Part of the drop-off may be fatigue -- Palmeiro has played every game. However, he also has labored when anyone other than Cal Ripken has hit behind him.

In the last 30 games, Palmeiro is hitting .380 (27-for-71) in the 19 games with Ripken immediately behind him in the order. In the other 11, Palmeiro is scuffling at .200 (8-for-40).

Palmeiro admits he has been first-ball hitting in many cases as pitchers no longer feed him fastballs when he leads in the count. "It has been a little different lately," he conceded. "The other night I'm ahead of [Roger] Clemens 3-2 and get a forkball."

About Robbie and Mary

In the October issue of Tennis magazine, Roberto Alomar spoke about his relationship with tennis star Mary Pierce.

"We are living together, but taking everything else one step at a time," Alomar said. "We are not ready to make any big announcement yet. We want to maintain this for a while and not rush into anything. When the time comes, we will move to the next level."

Ripken show on road?

Mike Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Museum, is meeting here with Ira Rainess of the Tufton Group in hopes of organizing a portable tribute to Ripken's consecutive-games streak next season. The exhibit would feature memorabilia now housed at the Babe Ruth Museum as well as the Ripken Museum in Aberdeen. One possibility would have the tour precede the Orioles around the American League.

Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, the end of Ripken's streak has prompted more interest in the Ripken Museum.

"We've been getting a lot of phone calls asking about hours," said president Jim McMahon Jr. "My indication is that there is an obvious increase."

Around the horn

The Orioles have to commit six errors in their final three games to avoid breaking the major-league record for fewest errors in a season. The Orioles have 78 errors; the Minnesota Twins set the existing record (84) in 1988.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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