DeShields due for MRI on lower back today

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

2nd baseman sidelined

Reboulet is filling in

June 03, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Second baseman Delino DeShields is to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test this afternoon to determine the cause and extent of what Orioles officials termed a lower back strain.

DeShields suffered the injury during the sixth inning of Tuesday night's 14-11 win over the Seattle Mariners. He was backing up a play made by shortstop Mike Bordick when he grabbed his lower back and crumbled to the Kingdome floor. DeShields remained immobile for several minutes before being helped to the clubhouse. He returned yesterday able to walk but unavailable to play.

"It feels better when I stand up," he said. "I can't play."

The Orioles are confident DeShields' injury is muscle-related. He was examined by a Mariners doctor yesterday and given that prognosis. However, DeShields is concerned because pain in the identical spot forced him from the lineup last month in Detroit.

"I don't know what it is. That's what I need to find out," he said. "I don't know if it's a disk or something else. But it was in the same spot, and that bothers me."

DeShields' season has been interrupted repeatedly by injuries, beginning March 4 when he suffered a fractured left thumb during an intrasquad game in spring training. He returned and experienced a sluggish offensive start but had recently made significant strides.

DeShields batted .375 with five runs and three doubles on the road trip, ending with a six-game hitting streak. He has batted .380 in his last 21 games, raising his average from .135 to .255. He batted .293 in May after enduring an 8-for-50 (.160) April.

"This has been a rough season," DeShields said. "It seems like I just got started and then this happens again."

The previous strain caused DeShields to receive heat treatment and massages. He was given muscle relaxers Tuesday night to help him sleep, but he was not looking forward to this morning's cross-country flight home.

"I'll be standing up a lot, I'm sure," he said. "Either that, or I'll be laying down in the aisle of the plane."

Reboulet on call Infield injuries usually represent an opportunity for Jeff Reboulet, valuable enough that the Orioles signed the utility player to a two-year deal last summer. A valuable resource, Reboulet is also blunt about the obstacles facing him when he receives fitful playing time.

"It's never an easy thing to sit a long time without playing," said Reboulet, who has crafted his role with the Orioles by sitting for long spells without playing. "You try to stay sharp taking batting practice but, frankly, I haven't done much at all lately. I don't feel like I'm swinging well at all."

Reboulet began the season in a similar role while DeShields made a rehab appearance at Bowie. He started the first four games of the season. Before last night, he had made 11 starts at second base and six at third base.

Reboulet entered last night 0-for-4 on the road trip and with only one start since May 18. Reboulet was hitless in his past 13 at-bats, dropping his average to .196 with two RBIs in 56 at-bats. Reboulet, however, has walked 14 times in 71 plate appearances, a higher ratio than cleanup hitter Albert Belle, the league's most-walked hitter.

"I've been on the wrong end of a few highlight plays," Reboulet said. "In my case, that really hurts. I don't get that many at-bats and I really need those hits."

Around the horn

Orioles officials will discuss the status of catcher Lenny Webster today. Webster remains on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right ankle and on Tuesday expressed doubt about his readiness to return to action. "We need to find something out soon," said manager Ray Miller, who played Charles Johnson for the 27th consecutive game. If Webster remains unavailable when the club takes off on a six-game road trip next week, the club will intensify efforts to seek outside help. Playing in his 2,730th game, Cal Ripken tied Mel Ott for 19th all-time last night. With 388 home runs, he stands only one behind Johnny Bench for 33rd all-time. The Orioles entered last night having hit 67 home runs: 42 with bases empty, 12 with one on, 11 with two on and two grand slams (Harold Baines, Brady Anderson). Orioles pitching had surrendered 70 home runs: 39 with bases empty, 13 with one on, 16 with two on and two grand slams.

Pub Date: 6/03/99

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