Bone chips found in Fetters' right elbow

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Surgery is considered

Belle workout curtailed

June 14, 1999|By ROCK KUBATKO | ROCK KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- A second examination of the right elbow of Orioles reliever Mike Fetters has confirmed bone chips related to tendinitis, according to a club source, and a decision is pending whether surgery will be needed.

Fetters, 34, had the elbow examined by team orthopedic doctor Michael Jacobs, then received a second opinion last week from Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles.

"They're supposed to compare notes today," said manager Ray Miller.

The discussion centered on whether surgery was required, which could keep Fetters out an additional six weeks. Otherwise, his return would hinge on how he responded to treatment.

Fetters went on the disabled list retroactive to June 7 after complaining of pain in the elbow while pitching against Philadelphia the previous day. He's eligible to come off June 22, when the Orioles begin a six-game homestand against division rivals Boston and New York.

His spot on the roster has been filled by Scott Kamieniecki, who went into last night's game against Atlanta with only one appearance since rejoining the club June 7 from Triple-A Rochester, where he made four starts. Moved to the bullpen, Kamieniecki fell to 0-3 after giving up two eighth-inning runs against Florida on Tuesday.

Fetters, 1-0 with a 5.48 ERA, signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles on Feb. 4 and made the club out of spring training. He permitted 11 runs (eight earned) and 16 hits in his last seven outings covering 7 2/3 innings.

Webster improving

The other Oriole on the disabled list, catcher Lenny Webster, told Miller yesterday that he believes he is a week away from going on a rehab assignment.

Webster hasn't played since straining a tendon in his right ankle while avoiding an inside pitch from Cleveland's Dwight Gooden on May 12.

"He still feels it, but it's better and better each day. I certainly didn't expect it to be this long," Miller said.

In Webster's absence, Charles Johnson has appeared in 35 of the last 36 games, including 33 starts. Miller said backup Mike Figga probably will start tonight since the Orioles weren't expected to arrive in Baltimore until around 3: 30 a.m., providing good reason to rest Johnson.

Designated sitter

Because there's no designated hitter used in the National League, Harold Baines began last night with only one at-bat in the last five games. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter for Scott Erickson in the eighth inning of Wednesday's game.

The Orioles' three-game winning streak was all the more impressive considering they've been missing their co-leader in RBIs. Baines and B. J. Surhoff began last night tied with 43.

"It seems like I lost my son two weeks ago," Miller said. "I asked him yesterday, `Have you been on this whole trip?' And he said, `No, I got in yesterday.' "

Shorter workout for Belle

Miller has talked to Albert Belle about scaling back on his pre-game hitting, hoping that doing less will lead to more production. So far, so good. Belle singled in a first-inning run last night and doubled and singled in his next two at-bats.

"He didn't hit on the field yesterday and I don't think he's hitting on the field today. He's just doing his cage routine," Miller said.

"If you have a strenuous routine of swinging and things aren't working, maybe you adjust it a little bit. I'm not sure that Albert agrees with that. It's hard when you've been very, very successful and you have a definite work program."

Complete turnaround

Mike Mussina took the mound at Turner Field last night trying to give the Orioles their third straight complete-game victory. Going back further, Orioles starters were 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in the last seven games.

Miller gives Mussina credit for the turnaround, citing the right-hander's gritty effort in Seattle on June 2. Mussina carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth before allowing three runs in a 4-2 loss. He remained in the game until throwing his 133rd pitch, leaving with two outs in the eighth.

"Moose pumped the pitching back up even though he lost the game," Miller said before his ace went seven strong innings in last night's 22-1 rout.

Juan Guzman tossed a six-hit shutout against the Braves on Saturday, less than 24 hours after Sidney Ponson had notched his second complete game in a 6-2 victory. And the night before that, Erickson won for only the second time this year, limiting Florida to two runs over seven innings.

Miller said the key for Erickson and Guzman was the ability to get ahead in the count, a missing ingredient in past starts.

"They used their off-speed stuff, kept the ball down and got a lot of ground balls," he said.

Clark slamming bat, ball

While Will Clark insists he's still a long way from returning to his pre-injury form at the plate, Miller believes otherwise. For proof, he turns to a ninth-inning at-bat in Saturday's game, when he popped up a fastball with the bases loaded and one out. It was the same pitch he drove for a home run in the first inning, and it caused him to slam his bat on the plate in frustration.

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