DL decision looms for hamstrung DeShields

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Availability for Red Sox at issue

Webster rehab set

June 21, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- A decision whether to place second baseman Delino DeShields on the 15-day disabled list will be made today, but manager Ray Miller suggested yesterday that DeShields will be put on the DL if doctors determine he won't be able to play during this week's six-game homestand because of a hamstring pull suffered Saturday night.

DeShields suffered what team trainers described as a mild strain when beating out a ground ball for a base hit. He immediately grabbed for the leg, collapsed in a heap, and had to be carried from the field by Miller and trainer Richie Bancells.

DeShields received treatment yesterday and will again today. Based upon reports, Miller and general manager Frank Wren will determine whether to play the Boston Red Sox with a short roster beginning tomorrow or call up infielder Jerry Hairston from Triple-A Rochester. Miller indicated yesterday that if DeShields is unavailable for more than a few days he will advocate a roster move.

Miller is concerned about leaving himself with Rich Amaral and B. J. Surhoff as his backup infielders. Jeff Reboulet is nursing a sore elbow and Cal Ripken has responded well when given periodic days off.

"I'm concerned about playing Reb every day or not being able to rest Cal," Miller said. "Bordick's out there every day, too."

DeShields was told yesterday that the injury would likely require at least five days' rest. "I'm not sure," he said. "I guess we'll know more [today]."

Saturday's injury represents another interruption in a season that had recently begun to turn DeShields' way. He is currently riding a six-game hitting streak and has hit in 16 of his last 19 games. DeShields was hitting .362 in his last 34 games to more than double his average from .135 to .274.

"It seems like every time he gets going, something happens," Miller said.

Reboulet started in place of DeShields yesterday and contributed a double in five at-bats. Reboulet made three consecutive starts June 16-18 as DeShields traveled to Atlanta for the birth of his third child. Reboulet also received 11 starts in a 19-game span April 22-May 12 as Ripken was sidelined by a strained nerve in his lower back.

Webster Rochester-bound

Catcher Lenny Webster will join the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Rochester tomorrow on a rehabilitation assignment that is expected to allow his return to the major-league club before next week. Limited to 36 at-bats and 16 appearances, Webster has been on the disabled list since May 13 because of a strained tendon in his right ankle. The rehab assignment is scheduled to last five days but, according to Webster, might be abbreviated to three days if the ankle holds up under the strain of catching consecutive games.

"I'm not at 100 percent and I probably won't be for the rest of the season," Webster said. "But I need to find out if I'm where I need to be in order to play."

The club thought Webster was close to going on a rehab assignment three weeks ago, but he experienced persistent pain in the ankle when attempting to shift from side to side, an important move for a catcher. Webster began catching in the bullpen in the last week. So far he has experienced no setbacks.

"The only way we're going to find out if I'm ready is to test in a game," Webster said. "Everything else is there."

Webster may also be rehabbing for another club as Wren continues to shop for a trade at the player's request.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are among a number of teams that have expressed interest in Webster, a pending free agent who has prodded management for a deal since spring training, realizing his playing time would be curtailed with the addition of Gold Glove catcher Charles Johnson. The possibility of a deal is real enough that Webster does not plan to relocate his family from its suburban Atlanta.

"They're going to have to make a decision one way or the other," Webster said. "Right now I'm up in the air."

While Miller has left open the possibility of retaining three catchers, it's more likely that either Webster or current backup Mike Figga would have to go. Miller has raved about Figga's ability to frame pitches.

Figga also is out of options and must be exposed to waivers and agree to a minor-league assignment before the Orioles could take him off their major-league roster.

A save for Kamieniecki

When Scott Kamieniecki warmed Saturday night, he thought it only a formality. But after Arthur Rhodes surrendered a pair of late-inning leads and Kamieniecki found himself trotting to the mound in the 11th inning with an 11-9 lead, he knew differently. Three hitters later he clutched a save and additional evidence that his 14-month odyssey is over.

"I was nervous. I was just trying to concentrate on what I had to do," said Kamieniecki, who earned his second career save and first since 1993 while with the New York Yankees. "I've been nervous before. Really, I get nervous before every game I pitch. But once you get out there on the mound it goes away. The waiting around is tough. Once I'm out there it's fine."

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