Poor field gives Reboulet's leg bad hop

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He strains hamstring with help of loose footing

June 10, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Infielder Jeff Reboulet was available to play last night after receiving treatment for some tightness in his right hamstring.

Victimized by the sloppy field conditions during Tuesday's doubleheader at Pro Player Stadium, Reboulet pulled up as he beat out a bunt in the eighth inning of the nightcap. He grabbed at the back of his leg and bent over at the bag as trainer Richie Bancells rushed from the dugout. Reboulet stayed in the game and received treatment afterward.

"I think it was more of a cramp first and then I kind of strained it," he said before sitting out last night's win. "It started out like a cramp because it was tight all around and I felt it pull a little. I was pushing hard down the line and my foot kind of slipped. I don't know if I did it when I pushed out and slipped or when I landed. That's when it started tightening up."

Compounding his problems, Reboulet aggravated the injury in the eighth when charging a grounder to third base by Mark Kotsay and throwing on the run. "I landed on my right leg and felt it again," he said, "but I made it through. And I feel pretty good today."

Reboulet tested the leg by running under the supervision of Bancells before the Orioles took batting practice.

"It's not as bad as we thought it was," said manager Ray Miller. "Richie seemed pretty optimistic about it. He said Rebs feels it a little bit, that's all. It's a wonder we didn't have 10 people hurt."

The players endured two rain delays in the first game of the doubleheader, including one that lasted 2: 01. The footing was especially poor around second base, where Reboulet was inserted in the eighth inning after Jeff Conine pinch hit for Delino DeShields.

"Second base was terrible," Reboulet said. "I was trying to find a spot to dig in so I could play double-play depth and it was unbelievable. You put your foot down and you'd move, so if you went to go get a ball you'd slide right out. You had no range, so you either had to play back on the grass -- and they have a bunch of fast guys, so if they chopped it or bunted, they'd beat it out -- or you had to play five feet from the baseline. You really don't play too many people in those spots."

Another downpour struck yesterday around 2: 30 p.m., but in typical South Florida fashion, the sun was out by the time the Marlins took batting practice and there was no evidence that it had rained.

No rest for Timlin

Though admitting he was "a little sore" after pitching both ends of the doubleheader, reliever Mike Timlin didn't rule out being available last night. He planned to play catch and see how he felt, but sounded intent on being ready in case he was needed.

Timlin couldn't recall appearing in both games of a doubleheader since college. He told Miller after the first game that he could go if needed. He had thrown 10 pitches, then 15 more in the nightcap after Scott Kamieniecki had allowed the first three batters to reach in the eighth.

Miller said he didn't want to use Timlin last night, "though I guess I could."

Miller called on Arthur Rhodes to pitch the ninth inning even though the left-hander had warmed up six times without appearing during the doubleheader. Ricky Bones pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, thanks to a leaping catch from Conine. His only other bullpen option behind starter Scott Erickson was Rocky Coppinger.

"Everybody else is on fumes," he said.

Too much preparation?

RS = 2p3 (27 points total) Even before last night's nose-to-nose shouting match, Miller discussed ending his "hands-off" approach with Albert Belle. The topic was Belle's work ethic, especially all the extra hitting he does before every game.

Though Miller admires his right fielder's preparation, he said he intended to speak to Belle about "scaling back" with the right fielder still not providing much of a presence in the cleanup spot.

"I'm going to talk to him about it pretty soon," Miller said before the game. "I'm sure that's what he's always done in the past and he's been pretty successful. Usually when something's not broke you don't try to fix it."

It may be time to tinker. Belle has only one home run in his last 21 games spanning 94 plate appearances. He is batting .203 (13-for-64) with four RBIs in his last 16, and opposing pitchers seem more willing to go after him.

"He's not driving the ball but he's been getting some hits," Miller said. "I think Albert is bordering on coming alive. Obviously he's not doing what he's done in the past as far as driving the ball and extra-base hits, but what you have to do is wait it out. I don't think you have much of a choice."

Miller could drop Belle in the order, but is leery of disrupting the hitters surrounding him. That's especially true of No. 3 hitter B.J. Surhoff, who had three more hits last night to raise his average to .339 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs.

J. Johnson keeps spot

Jason Johnson impressed Miller enough in his third start with the Orioles Tuesday to remain the fifth starter.

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