After workout, Kamieniecki gets the ball

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rehabbed pitcher to make first start since August

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

An 18-minute bullpen session yesterday convinced Orioles manager Ray Miller that Scott Kamieniecki is ready to come off the disabled list and start Saturday's game in Detroit. A corresponding move will come that day to clear space for him on the roster.

Kamieniecki, who's recovering from a strained left hamstring, hasn't started a major-league game in nine months. Miller watched him throw briefly yesterday, then consulted with pitching coach Bruce Kison before making a determination.

"I saw him throw five or six pitches and was happy with him," Miller said. "I walked up and said, `Get your head straight and get positive. You're ready to go as far as I'm concerned.' He felt good."

Yesterday's session represented the first time Kamieniecki had thrown since lasting 1 1/3 innings in Monday's exhibition against a Cuban all-star team. A late start, 56-minute rain delay and sloppy mound conspired against him, and Miller didn't want to pass judgment under those conditions.

"How could you evaluate yourself off something like that? It was a fiasco," Kamieniecki said.

Though sound enough physically to air it out in the bullpen, Kamieniecki wasn't campaigning for Saturday's assignment, which would have fallen to Rocky Coppinger as the alternative. Instead, Coppinger may be headed back to Triple-A Rochester.

"I've got to start sometime," Kamieniecki said after throwing. "If [Miller] gives me the start, that's great. If he doesn't, I guess I'll get some more work in.

"I've got to start pitching, and the sooner the better. I just can't do it at the risk of maybe costing us a game or two."

Kamieniecki threw 53 pitches on Monday and did more work inside that pushed the total to around 110. Estimating how far he could go against the Tigers, Kamieniecki said, "I don't see why I can't throw 100."

Kamieniecki's last start came Aug. 21 against Cleveland, before returning to the DL for a third time and having surgery the following month to repair a herniated disk in his neck. He hasn't won since April 18.

Heavenly helper

Sam Perlozzo did his usual sprint to the third base coaching box before the first pitch was thrown by White Sox starter Jaime Navarro, a practice he continues before every inning. But this season, Perlozzo has expanded his routine to include a tribute to Cal Ripken Sr.

Once he reaches the box in the first inning, Perlozzo bends down to touch the orange No. 7 that was painted there to honor Ripken, who died of lung cancer in March. Perlozzo then swipes his hand over his jersey.

"I do it out of respect for a guy who was a great third base coach," he said. "I rub it on me hoping maybe his knowledge would rub off on me. It's superstitious, but also respectful toward him and Cal [Jr.], in remembrance of his dad."

Has it helped?

"I would like to think so," he said. "If something goes wrong, can I blame it on him, too? It has to work both ways."

Bones on the bases?

Perlozzo was caught by surprise when he saw pitcher Ricky Bones jogging toward him in the 10th inning of Tuesday's game. He was expecting Bones to relay instructions from Miller, not to be replacing Lenny Webster as the runner on third.

"I said, `So what's going on?' and he said, `He told me to listen to whatever you say.' I thought that was one of the special moments of the game," Perlozzo said. "I was throwing a lot at him -- don't get picked off, watch for a line drive, look for a ball in the dirt. But he was very calm. He took a nice lead. He actually scared me a little bit."

Harold Baines calmed down everyone by hitting a grand slam to allow Bones to trot home with the winning run.

Bones isn't a stranger to the base paths. He pitched in the National League, where he had to bat, and was used as a pinch runner while with Milwaukee.

Conine too hot to move

Though Chicago started a right-hander, Miller stuck with the hot bat and used Jeff Conine at first base instead of left-handed-hitting Calvin Pickering.

Conine homered twice Tuesday and singled in the tying run with two outs in the ninth. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI last night and has seven hits in his last 12 at-bats after going 1-for-19 over a six-game stretch.

He's not likely to play third any time soon, though he got through the last two innings of Tuesday's game without incident. Then again, he didn't have a ball hit to him, either.

Conine said he hadn't played third since the Instructional League in 1988.

"I felt fine out there [Tuesday]," he said. "I'll make sure I take some grounders over there in BP once in a while to get more used to the throws."

Around the horn

Navarro's last loss to the Orioles came in August 1994. Miller said he'll probably use Pickering as his DH today since Baines doesn't have good numbers against right-hander James Baldwin. The White Sox's two losses at Camden Yards doubled last year's total.

Pub Date: 5/06/99

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