Webster takes hit, appears to be OK

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Catcher bruises right hand after getting whacked by bat, will be out 1-2 days

May 07, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Catcher Lenny Webster escaped yesterday's game with nothing more than a bruised right hand and wrist after being struck by the backswing of Chicago second baseman Ray Durham in the third inning of the Orioles' 4-2 victory at Camden Yards.

Webster was trying to throw out McKay Christensen as the White Sox center fielder broke for second base on an attempted steal. The bat hit Webster on the edge of the hand with such force that it flew toward the mound, and he immediately fell to the dirt. X-rays were negative and Webster said he expects to miss only a day or two.

"I thought I broke something," he said, "but after a while I started getting some of the feeling back. It's swollen, but I'm very lucky I didn't crack or break anything."

"I was scared to death," said manager Ray Miller. "It didn't sound good. He got hit right at the release point."

Webster was replaced by Charles Johnson, whose sacrifice fly in the fourth gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Johnson also was a health question after being struck on the left kneecap by a foul tip Wednesday, though he didn't require treatment yesterday.

Johnson had been in obvious discomfort as trainer Richie Bancells rushed from the dugout, but he stayed in the game.

"It feels good now," he said. "It's one of those ones that hits you and makes your knee go numb for a while. It hit in between the guard and me. Sometimes it'll hit in the wrong spot and shocks and numbs your knee. You can't feel it and it takes about a minute or so for it to go away. It's part of the job, though. Just a day's work."

Television cameras showed Webster in the dugout pointing to the spot on his knee where Johnson was nailed.

"When a catcher goes down, other catchers know what it feels like," Johnson said.

Praise for Molina

Gabe Molina isn't far removed from Double-A competition, but Miller said he can envision the young reliever sticking with the club and filling the role vacated by Heathcliff Slocumb's release last week.

Molina, 23, drew raves from Miller after retiring all six batters he faced to close Wednesday's 8-0 victory over the White Sox. He also threw a scoreless ninth in his major-league debut Saturday, though he allowed a single and walk. In between, Molina surrendered five runs to the Cuban all-stars Monday.

"I was a lot more relaxed [Wednesday], just throwing strikes and getting them out," said Molina, named the organization's minor league Pitcher of the Year in 1998 after saving 24 games at Bowie. "It was a good situation for me to come into. I knew if I did well I'd probably finish up the game."

Molina threw 10 1/3 scoreless innings at Triple-A Rochester before being called up April 30.

"I like his demeanor on the mound," Miller said. "He hits 93 [mph] and he throws strikes. Guys hit the ball on the ground. He certainly doesn't look like a kid on the mound. And he's been a closer. What I like is he throws the ball over the plate and gets off the field."

Lineup juggling

Jeff Reboulet started at third base in place of Willis Otanez, who began yesterday 7-for-40 (.175) in 12 games since his average peaked at .346 on April 21. Otanez is expected to be in the lineup tonight in Detroit against left-hander Justin Thompson.

"He's been scuffling a little bit and I want to give Rebs some at-bats," Miller said. "[Otanez] has played pretty consistently now. It's been quite awhile."

Otanez has started 17 games at third and served twice as the designated hitter. Reboulet, accustomed to long periods of inactivity, has started six of the last 13 games -- four at second base, two at third.

Miller also had Brady Anderson and Delino DeShields batting 1-2 for the second straight game. DeShields, who missed most of spring training with a fractured thumb, began yesterday 1-for-16 following a six-game hitting streak. He clubbed a three-run homer in the ninth inning of Monday's exhibition, which doesn't count in the official stats.

Yesterday, DeShields went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

"I like Delino up there because I think he's very close to coming out [of his slump]," Miller said.

"He's working hard. I see him in here three hours before a game with a bat, walking around the clubhouse. He's wanting to do so good. I think it's just a matter of him getting a good pitch and popping one, and he'll get going. I certainly like that vitality up front, the speed."

Around the horn

Reliever Mike Fetters is donating $200 per appearance to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and the Orioles are matching the amount. Fetters has gotten into 10 games, with $2,000 given to each organization. He's averaged 44 appearances in eight full seasons. This is the first time the Orioles have swept Chicago in a three-game series since May 22-24, 1989, and the first time in Baltimore in 16 years. The Orioles have been outscored 35-4 in the second inning, but have a 31-14 edge in the seventh.

Pub Date: 5/07/99

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