Webster misses bus, then charter, arrives late for `home' game

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Tardy catcher miffs Miller after night at Ga. home

Kamieniecki re-exam due

April 04, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

HOOVER, Ala. -- Catcher Lenny Webster missed his scheduled start yesterday when he failed to meet the team charter that brought the Orioles from Atlanta to Birmingham International Airport.

Webster experienced a frustrating chain of events when he narrowly missed the team bus, which left a downtown Atlanta hotel around 8: 30 a.m. Webster had spent Friday night at his Fayetteville, Ga., home and attempted to contact traveling secretary Phil Itzoe when he realized he might be late. Webster never reached Itzoe and found the bus had departed when he reached the hotel.

After hustling to Hartsfield International Airport to meet the team charter, Webster was told there was no way he could be transported from the terminal onto the tarmac. When the charter departed without him, Webster was left to stew while waiting for a commercial flight to Birmingham.

"I did everything possible to catch the plane," Webster said. "I called and then I made every attempt to get to the bus. I guess they couldn't wait."

Webster footed the $400 bill for the 30-minute flight, hailed a cab then had to endure a traffic snarl on the way to suburban Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. By the time Webster arrived, Charles Johnson had replaced him in the starting lineup and relief pitcher Doug Johns had caught the ceremonial first pitch. Manager Ray Miller inserted Webster in the second inning but later met with his catcher.

"It's been taken care of," Miller said curtly without confirming a fine had been levied.

The team's policy regarding accommodations is relatively lax. Players may stay away from the team hotel at their own expense. They also may spend time at home with family, as Webster did.

"There certainly wasn't anything intentional on my part," Webster said. "I made every effort" to join the team.

Webster said he even considered renting a car and making the 2 1/2-hour drive to the southern suburb of Birmingham. "But I figured by the time that happened I would be too wiped out to catch a game," he said. "I'm sorry it happened, but I did everything humanly possible to get here."

Kamieniecki knee new focus

As expected, the Orioles placed starting pitcher Scott Kamieniecki and second baseman Delino DeShields on the disabled list yesterday, retroactive to March 25.

DeShields, who suffered a broken left thumb during a March 4 intrasquad game, is expected to be activated before the team makes its first road trip to New York April 13. Kamieniecki, who suffered a strained left hamstring while running in the outfield March 19, remains an open-ended question. Orioles team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs will examine Kamieniecki today.

Kamieniecki hasn't attempted to throw from a mound since March 22, two days after he was scratched from his third spring start. He ends camp with only six innings pitched.

"I don't know what to tell you," he said before yesterday's exhibition finale. "It's not getting any better, that's for sure."

The team's medical staff is equally perplexed. Kamieniecki initially was projected to miss only one start. However, the injury limits him when he attempts to jog or participate in long toss. Miller conceded Friday night that it is unlikely he will return before the end of the month.

Though the initial diagnosis hasn't changed, there is concern Kamieniecki may have suffered more extensive damage behind the left knee. If so, the time frame for his return changes dramatically. "I'm going to wait and see what they have to say," he said. "Right now, I'm out of guesses."

DeShields will likely be assigned to extended spring in Sarasota, Fla., where he may face live pitching for four to five games.

Rhodes vows to hold off talks

Reliever Arthur Rhodes insists he will carry out his promise not to discuss a contract extension with the club once the season starts tomorrow. The left-handed reliever is still waiting for the club to meet with his agent after a previous negotiating session was canceled.

"I'm not disappointed. My agent's disappointed. But I'm not mad. I'm just not going to talk about it anymore once the season starts," Rhodes said. "Once the season gets here, I don't want any distractions. We'll wait until after it's over, then deal with it."

Rhodes, 29, is entering the final season of a three-year deal that pays him a $2.2 million final installment.

Ponson: 1 IP, 6 ER, 2 HR

Add Sidney Ponson to those who experienced a lost spring. Ponson was pounded from yesterday's start after a six-run first inning in which he threw for the cycle and allowed 16 total bases.

He trailed 3-0 after nine pitches and received terse mound visits from Miller and first baseman Will Clark before the ordeal mercifully ended.

Ponson accomplished an ignominious feat by allowing a single, two doubles, a triple and home runs to Scott Rolen and Mike Lieberthal in the first inning.

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