Kamieniecki purrs in tuneup

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

4 hitless innings for Keys put Cuba next on rehab list

April 30, 1999|By Kent Baker and Roch Kubatko | Kent Baker and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Scott Kamieniecki appears ready for the Cubans.

In his second rehabilitation start last night, Kamieniecki threw four no-hit innings for the Single-A Frederick Keys and looked much more in control than in his first outing Sunday with Double-A Bowie.

"No doubt my command was better. My legs were underneath me and my body felt better," said Kamieniecki, who has been on the disabled list all season with a strained left hamstring. "I threw all my pitches and there was no pain. I'll be back out there Monday."

Kamieniecki, 35, was limited to 45 pitches because he will return to the mound at Camden Yards on three days' rest to face a Cuban all-star team in an exhibition game.

The Potomac Cannons had three runners reach base against Kamieniecki, one on an error, one via a walk and one on a fielder's choice when a runner was safe at second on an attempted force play. He struck out three and left with the Keys leading 3-0.

Kamieniecki said his Bowie start (five innings, three runs, six hits) was like "the second week in spring training. My whole body was kind of hurting. It was only the second time I had thrown."

He anticipates returning to the Orioles if he performs well Monday.

"I don't see the Cuban game as special, but it's a major-league atmosphere. I just don't know how good they're going to be," he said.

Round 2 for Rocky

Orioles manager Ray Miller has decided to give Rocky Coppinger another start tomorrow, though with much deliberation.

"I thought long and hard about it," Miller said.

Coppinger tested Miller's patience, and nearly cost himself a spot in the rotation, with Sunday's abbreviated start. Though his fastball was clocked at 95 mph, Coppinger couldn't locate his pitches, resulting in six walks in 1 1/3 innings. He allowed just one hit but was charged with five runs, leaving his ERA at 33.75.

Speaking to a small group of reporters Wednesday, Coppinger addressed the perception that he's getting one last chance with the Orioles. Miller broached that subject with the Texas native yesterday while informing him of tomorrow's assignment.

"I told him there are really no chances involved," Miller said. "The only opposition you have to your success or career are the people standing with a bat in their hands, so just keep it that simple and go beat the Minnesota Twins. Clear your head and go pitch. You worked hard for it. You got back up here. Go out there."

How well Coppinger does, and the improved health of Kamieniecki, could impact Sidney Ponson. The 22-year-old Aruban right-hander could be headed to the bullpen, where Miller would like him to gain more experience.

"Our bullpen has pitched 57 percent of our innings. That's not good enough. This time of year it should be maybe 25 percent," Miller said.

Cuba morsels

The Orioles began preparations for their exhibition game against Cuba on Monday by displaying banners on the Camden Yards Warehouse and at other downtown locations.

The ceremonial first pitches will be thrown by a pair of youth league players from Baltimore and Cuba.

Fans attending the historic game will be treated to Cuban entertainment as well as foods and drinks native to the islands. The bullpen picnic grove behind center field will be transformed into a "Cuban Festival" before the game.

The pre-game activities also will include a concert by Cubanismo, one of Cuba's most popular music groups.

Around the horn

Harold Baines played in his 1,427th game as a designated hitter, tying the major-league record set by Hal McRae. He went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .298. The Royals have turned a league-leading 31 double plays, including two last night. The Royals' Carlos Febles was 5-for-5 in steals until being thrown out by Charles Johnson in the fifth. Baltimore native Jay Witasick, who pitched at UMBC, will make his first start for the Royals tonight at Yankee Stadium. Fans attending tonight's game will receive a Brooks Robinson No. 5 collector's pin.

Pub Date: 4/30/99

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