Clark could leg out a start today

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Cortisone shot aids knee

Bones is improving, too

July 08, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Though still walking with a slight limp, Orioles first baseman Will Clark said he might be ready to play in today's series finale against Toronto.

Clark hasn't started since July 1 because of swelling in his left knee. He took batting practice again yesterday and had been available to pinch-hit the past two games, but manager Ray Miller was reluctant to use him before Clark led off the ninth with a pinch single last night.

"I'll try to back off him a day or so and make sure he's getting stronger," Miller said before the game.

A cortisone shot has eased much of the discomfort in Clark's knee, which didn't sustain any structural damage, according to an MRI. "It's like a bad bone bruise. You know how you get a bruise and there's swelling in the area? Same thing," he said.

Clark said the injury may have stemmed from a few hard slides in Toronto last week. The knee stiffened while he took batting practice before Friday's game in New York and he was scratched.

"When I came to New York that first day, it was like somebody inserted a grapefruit under my knee," he said.

Bones on comeback trail

Reliever Ricky Bones threw in the bullpen again yesterday as he prepares for a July 18 return from the disabled list. He also threw more easily on Monday and said he will pitch a simulated game.

Bones was put on the DL with what is being described as a "fatigued right arm" after failing to retire a batter in three of his last four appearances. During that stretch, he also gave up three runs and four hits in one inning of a June 23 game against Boston.

Signed as a free agent over the winter to pitch mainly in long relief, Bones had been called upon more frequently in the later innings. He's 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in 24 games, and opponents are hitting .326 against him.

He was advised to rest the arm, but also has been doing some forearm exercises and playing catch "nice and easy." He also has been receiving hot and cold treatments.

"It's coming along pretty good," Bones said. "Fifteen days should be enough."

Otanez on hold again

Willis Otanez must wonder when he'll catch a break.

In Baltimore, he was stuck behind third baseman Cal Ripken, with his only chances to play coming when the Iron Man went on the disabled list earlier this season. Claimed on waivers by Toronto on May 28, he's now vying for time with third baseman Tony Fernandez, the American League's leading hitter.

"Same thing, different uniform," he said while riding an exercise bike in the visitor's clubhouse at Camden Yards. "Everybody wants to play, but you have to do the best you can. In this game you never have control, but I'm happy."

He hasn't been very busy. Otanez, who drove in 100 runs at Triple-A Rochester last year, has made only six starts with the Blue Jays after hitting .213 in 29 games with the Orioles. Going into last night, he was batting .250 (6-for-24) with two doubles as a Blue Jay. His last two appearances have come as a defensive replacement -- an interesting choice considering his glove was regarded as a liability with the Orioles.

Otanez, who last started June 25, insisted he has no hard feelings toward the Orioles and doesn't seek redemption in this series.

"Sometimes you're going to be traded or let go. You don't have to have anything against those people. That's baseball. It's a business," he said.

"That wasn't my first organization. I hold nothing against them," said Otanez, who was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and obtained by the Orioles off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. "There were a lot of high-class people over there, real nice."

Around the horn

Left-hander Scott Rice, the second of the Orioles' three sandwich draft picks, signed yesterday. The 6-foot-6 pitcher was 6-2 for Royal High School in Simi Valley, Calif., this year. Babe Ruth's daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, will appear at the Babe Ruth Museum today from 10: 30 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m.

Pub Date: 7/08/99

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