DeShields takes careful return steps

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

2nd baseman won't be back until after All-Star Game

July 07, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

His mind tells him to get on the field and reclaim second base. Enough time has passed in a season of constant interruptions. But Delino DeShields is wise enough to block out any temptations and listen to a lower authority.

"I know my body. It's telling me it's not ready," he said.

Though eligible to come off the disabled list, DeShields said he doesn't expect to return to the Orioles' lineup until after the All-Star break. Progress is being made as he recovers from a strained hamstring, but not enough to risk a setback.

"My leg's feeling better," he said before last night's game against Toronto. "As bad as I want to play, I think it's going to be a few more days. I'll just keep on doing my treatments. I feel good where I'm at right now."

DeShields has been running and lifting weights, and also has begun taking live batting practice. That's as far as he wants to push it right now, especially with this being his second stint on the DL.

He began the season there because of a fractured thumb, and had worked his average up to .274 when he injured the hamstring while running to first base in a June 19 game in Chicago.

"I don't want this to become a nagging injury. I've been through enough this year," said DeShields, who signed a three-year deal over the winter.

Rookie Jerry Hairston, who went 1-for-2 before being replaced by Jeff Reboulet last night, has become the Orioles' regular second baseman in DeShields' absence. He's made 11 consecutive starts there after Reboulet had been penciled in for three of the previous four.

Clark mum on swelling

Will Clark declined to comment on the swelling in his left knee that has kept him out of the lineup since Friday, but manager Ray Miller said the first baseman is "the infamous day-to-day" and didn't anticipate a roster move being necessary.

"He got a shot and it's still a little sore from that, but he probably could hit if you asked him to," Miller said.

Clark's last at-bat came as a pinch hitter Friday in New York. He was sent to Baltimore the next day for a magnetic resonance imaging, which didn't reveal any structural damage.

Sartorial splendor

At least Clark was willing to talk about the Orioles' retro caps, which they're wearing for this three-game series.

They've brought back the cartoon bird with the white front panel, a look that disappeared in 1989.

"As you can tell, I'm such a style master," Clark said. "I like some of the old-time uniforms. I think it brings back a lot of the nostalgia in the game. And a lot of good things happened with that hat."

Reliever Mike Timlin also gave his approval to the temporary change in attire.

"I like this guy," he said, pointing to the bird. "He's smiling, he's having fun. This game is supposed to be fun."

Miller said he preferred the cartoon bird to the more ornithologically correct one that adorned last year's caps before going through another modification.

"It brings back a lot of good memories," he said. "I always liked that bird, and the one this year is good. The one last year looked like a squab."

Recognition for Surhoff

Mike Mussina sees another downside to the club's poor first half besides its fading chances of reaching the playoffs: Staying at the bottom of the standings hurts B. J. Surhoff's chances of getting the recognition he deserves, including postseason awards.

"I think it's unfortunate we're not playing better because he's putting up MVP numbers," said Mussina, who didn't have two runs charged to him on Monday because of a great catch by Surhoff that robbed New York's Chili Davis and ended the sixth inning.

"It's not only offensively. He's so good on defense, so good at getting the ball down the line and keeping the guy from getting a double. He gets back on the ball great. He's all over left field. He throws well, he's smart. I know he's played a lot of positions, but after all these years they stuck him in left field and that's turned out to be his best position. He's as good out there as anybody I've seen. Not to mention he's not afraid to crash into a few things."

Surhoff, whose 12-game hitting streak ended after he went 0-for-5 last night, will find out today if he's crashed the American League's All-Star roster. Reserves will be announced, and Surhoff is expected to be chosen for the first time.

Amaral at top of order

Miller started Rich Amaral in center field and put him atop the order, replacing Brady Anderson.

It was difficult to find a favorable matchup against Toronto left-hander David Wells. Amaral was hitting .147 (5-for-34) against him lifetime. That was better than Anderson, who was 1-for-13.

Amaral went 2-for-4 for the night, including 2-for-3 against Wells, before he was replaced by Anderson in the eighth.

Amaral's playing time has been sporadic because the Orioles haven't faced many left-handers in the first half, but Miller has become a big supporter of the former Seattle Mariner.

"Rich is fantastic," Miller said. "He's a lot like Reboulet except he's even got speed. The guy knows his role and he worked hard to get to the big leagues. He's always prepared to play. He's the consummate professional.

"He'll probably get a little more playing time with this heat."

Around the horn

The Orioles have signed left-hander Josh Cenate, the 34th overall pick in last month's draft, to a $950,000 bonus. He is scheduled to report to Rookie League Bluefield today. Cenate was 35-4 in four years at Jefferson (W.Va.) High. The Orioles have signed 25 of their 53 picks, including 19 out of the first 27 rounds. Miller said a decision will come soon regarding catcher Lenny Webster, who remains at Triple-A Rochester on an injury rehab assignment. He hasn't played for the Orioles since straining a tendon in his right ankle on May 12. The Pittsburgh Pirates have expressed interest in Webster after losing All-Star catcher Jason Kendall to a broken ankle.

Pub Date: 7/07/99

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