Baines gives seat to hot bat, aching leg


Miller grudgingly listens to trainers

Clark 1-for-5

Coppinger up, Molina down

May 22, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Fighting the temptation to keep one of his hottest bats in the lineup, Orioles manager Ray Miller started Rich Amaral as the designated hitter against Texas right-hander Rick Helling, rather than use Harold Baines in a situation that usually beckons him.

Baines went 3-for-4 in Thursday's loss to Anaheim, leaving him 13-for-31 (.419) in his last seven games before last night. So why go with Amaral, who had one hit in 14 at-bats against right-handers before facing Helling?

"Harold's been dragging his leg like [heck] and medical people have told me if he keeps playing, he's going to blow it," Miller said. "I've got Will Clark coming back hopefully within the next couple days. I certainly don't want to get him back and lose Baines."

Baines advanced to second base on a wild pitch in the second inning of Thursday's game, though he barely beat the throw from Angels catcher Matt Walbeck. He then tagged and lumbered into third on a fly ball to center by Jeff Conine, again needing to slide to get there safely. The effort paid off when Cal Ripken stroked a two-out double to give the Orioles their first run.

Amaral went 0-for-4 last night, stranding four runners as his average dropped to .179.

Clark's first controlled scrimmage in Sarasota, Fla., produced one hit in five official at-bats. He also walked three times and played six innings in the field before serving as designated hitter for the last two.

Clark, who led off every inning, is scheduled to play in Fort Myers, Fla., this morning before rejoining the club in Anaheim on Tuesday for the start of a nine-game West Coast trip. He's been on the disabled list since April 19 with a fractured left thumb.

Yesterday's game was supposed to be played at 9 a.m. to combat the intense heat, but was switched to 1 p.m.

"Will was there bright and early," Miller said.

"I'm sure one more day, if he has any success at all, he'll say, `That's enough of this.' "

Pitchers who hit

The pitchers took early batting practice yesterday for the third time in preparation for the start of interleague play next month. The Orioles play in Florida June 7-9, and in Atlanta June 11-13. The last game will be broadcast by ESPN.

Most of the session was devoted to bunting, though there was enough time for Mike Mussina and Doug Johns to spray some hits, and Scott Erickson to barely clear the left-field fence with a drive that had his teammates roaring as he left the cage.

Miller also instructed the group on what to do when the bunt sign comes off. "You've got to make them understand that they're not trying to hit a home run. You're just trying to hit a ground ball because everybody's moving," he said.

Retouching second base

Having seen replays of the controversial call at second base in the second inning of Thursday's game, Miller remains convinced that Mike Bordick had his foot on the bag before throwing to first for an apparent double play.

Umpire Tim Welke ruled Bordick left the bag before taking the flip from Delino DeShields, and the Angels went on to score four times in a 6-4 victory.

"We got a call that went against us. That's part of the game," Miller said. "The only thing that bothered me about that was I read in the paper where he reviewed it and said he got it right. Mike just about lost his mind over that. We ended up slowing it down frame by frame and his toe was on the base when the ball hit his glove."

Jason Johnson, making his first start for the Orioles, could have escaped the inning without giving up a run. He blanked the Angels over the next three innings before allowing a leadoff homer to Todd Greene in the sixth that broke a 4-4 tie.

"I thought he pitched real well. I thought his stuff was outstanding," Miller said.

"He showed a good fastball, and one big thing was he wasn't afraid to pitch in. He had a few people diving out of there and I was glad to see that."

Johnson likely will make two more starts for the Orioles while Scott Kamieniecki works through his problems at Triple-A Rochester.

Coppinger recalled

The Orioles optioned relief pitcher Gabe Molina to Triple-A Rochester after the game and recalled pitcher Rocky Coppinger. Molina gave up four runs in 8 2/3 innings over six games.

Coppinger had made two starts for the Orioles earlier this year, going 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA.

Catching up

Catcher Lenny Webster continues to walk gingerly because of a strained tendon in his right ankle.

"Slowly but surely it's getting there," he said.

In his absence, Charles Johnson played in his 17th straight game last night, including the May 3 exhibition against the Cuban all-stars. He's expected to sit while rookie Tommy Davis gets a start today.

Around the horn

B. J. Surhoff extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single. Ripken stretched his to 10 with a seventh-inning single. A sign posted beside Albert Belle's locker written in orange and black marker says: "For interview requests, please refer to my Web site! Thanks, AB" Rangers shortstop Royce Clayton was activated before the game, going 1-for-3 with a fifth-inning error. He had been on the disabled list since May 1 with a torn right shoulder muscle. All fans 14 and under who attend today's game will receive a Cal Ripken growth poster. Tomorrow night's game will be Texas Night at Camden Yards, with fans able to dine on Texas barbecue and beverages in the center-field picnic area and listen to the band Bay Country.

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