DeShields envisions fractured spring mending quickly


2nd baseman heads to Fla., Bowie, but eyes weekend return

Wren savors 1st day

April 06, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

If this had been any other Opening Day for second baseman Delino DeShields, his family would have made the drive from Seaford, Del., to watch him play. That's the way he always envisioned it. But being on the disabled list changed those plans.

"I'm not playing so I'm not really here yet," he said. "I told them to stay away until I get on the field."

Unless they're willing to follow him to Sarasota, Fla., they'll have to wait. DeShields flew there last night and will report to the minor-league camp, where he'll play three games as part of his rehabilitation from a fractured left thumb.

Barring any complications, DeShields will play in Double-A Bowie's opener Friday. He's eligible to come off the DL the next day and could rejoin the Orioles for their game against Toronto at Camden Yards, "but that could be pushing it," said general manager Frank Wren.

"He'll play there [in Bowie] until he gets his timing and our staff reports back that it looks like he's ready to go. From a physical standpoint, he's ready to go today, but from a timing standpoint and getting it back, that's where he needs some work."

DeShields sounds like he's on another timetable. "I'm planning on being active Saturday," he said.

DeShields hasn't faced live pitching since fracturing the thumb while catching a line drive from minor-league outfielder Luis Matos during a March 4 intrasquad game.

"I feel it if I hit it wrong," DeShields said, "but it's nothing I can't tolerate at this point."

He'll have to deal with going into a season devoid of any at-bats against major-league pitching.

"That's why I'm going down [to Sarasota], just to see some live arms," he said. "I'm just trying to get back out there and help. At the same time, I'm not going out there and put a lot of pressure on myself. I'm just going to take it slow, be patient and let the game come to me."

Kamieniecki on move, too

Scott Kamieniecki also was expected to leave for Sarasota last night as he rehabs a strained left hamstring.

Kamieniecki had the leg examined Sunday by team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs, and the club said there was no additional damage.

"He checked out fine," Wren said, adding that Kamieniecki most likely will need at least four rehab starts to build up his strength.

"I would think it would be pushing it to expect him back any time in April. It's possible, but he's going to have to get out pretty quickly to be able to do that."

Asked if there's any concern within the organization that the injury is more serious, Wren said, "I don't think so. There's nothing that's indicated other than [a strain] so far."

New GM Wren...

Wren said his first game as a GM "wasn't as nerve-racking and crazy" as he imagined.

"I got up extra-early and came in this morning to just kind of get settled in my office, and then everything started to happen. I've been busy since everything kind of broke loose here."

Wren has a view of the field from his office in the warehouse. Until yesterday, there hadn't been much to see.

"It's really special now with all the activity going on," he said. "I look forward to seeing it packed, I look forward to seeing the excitement of everything. Opening Day is the closest thing to the postseason for a lot of clubs. Hopefully, we'll get some extra-special time at the end of the year."

... vet Miller savor opener

By Miller's count, yesterday represented his 22nd Opening Day in the majors. The names and places change, but not the feeling.

"If you aren't [excited], you don't have a heart," he said. "Every one of them is exciting and different, whether you're a veteran or a kid. I guarantee you that Jesse Garcia doesn't have any more butterflies than Will Clark. Opening Day's a spectacle. It's like a rebirth in baseball every year."

The Orioles flew into Baltimore after Saturday's exhibition game in Birmingham, Ala., and Miller walked a few of the new players around Camden Yards "to say hello to the ballpark."

"It's a special feeling, especially for a first-year kid, but even guys who come from other organizations. This is just a great place to play," he said.

Picture of satisfaction

For Jesse Garcia, yesterday's opener turned into a reunion. He left tickets for various members of his family and friends -- including his parents and 3-year-old twin sons -- and none went to waste.

His mother drove to Baltimore from her Texas home, while the others flew here. After the game, Garcia stood in front of his locker and had photos taken with Polaroids, all the better to share the moment.

Garcia made his big-league debut in the eighth inning, replacing Reboulet at second base. "I was hoping I'd get a chance to hit, but at least I got in the game. Now I'm in the books," he said.

On the hot seat?

Miller noticed heat coming from the bench as he sat in the dugout before the game. The hot-seat analogy was there for the taking, and a reporter couldn't resist.

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