Webster recalled, but not to roster

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rehab over, deal likely

Miller rethinks bullpen

July 09, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles catcher Lenny Webster has gone from the major-league roster, to Triple-A Rochester to a state of limbo.

Soon, he expects to go to another team.

Webster has been recalled from his injury rehab assignment at Rochester but remains inactive. General manager Frank Wren is working the phones trying to arrange a trade, with Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Atlanta among the interested parties. Pirates catcher Jason Kendall is done for the season after fracturing and dislocating his right ankle.

"I don't know when it's going to happen or where I'm going to be," Webster said, "but I'm confident that I may have played my last game in an Orioles' uniform."

He has gotten into only 16 of them this season because of injuries. The most severe came on May 12 when he strained a tendon in his right ankle while avoiding a tight pitch from Cleveland's Dwight Gooden. His recovery has been slow, with the most dramatic progress being made in the last week. He's been catching every day, and rediscovered his swing after a slow start.

Webster said the ankle is about 90 percent, with a full recovery not possible until after the season when he can give it complete rest.

"It's still a little sore," he said. "If I was 100 percent I wouldn't feel anything, but it's at the point where I can run without limping. I've been catching pretty good and that was the test."

If a trade happens, Webster would prefer going to Atlanta, which is near his home in Fayetteville, Ga.

"I really don't know what's going to happen and at this point and time I'm not going to worry. That can only hinder me in what I'm trying to accomplish. The thing is, I hate to leave here. You'd be hard-pressed to find another organization that treats you like this. But I have a gut feeling I'm going to be dealt someplace."

Miller recasts bullpen plan

Hoping to restore some order to his muddled bullpen, Orioles manager Ray Miller said he'll return Mike Timlin to the closer's role in the second half and attempt to better define the other relievers' functions.

That includes sliding left-hander Arthur Rhodes into middle relief, where he found the footing much steadier last season.

"I'm trying to get back to making sure everybody understands where I want to use them, use them in that role and sink or swim," Miller said.

Timlin, who began the season as the closer after signing a four-year, $16 million deal over the winter, leads the majors with eight blown saves in 17 chances. Miller has tried an assortment of replacements, most recently using rookie Gabe Molina in Wednesday's game against Toronto. Molina surrendered a two-run homer to Willie Greene in the ninth for the Orioles' 20th blown save.

"I probably put a little bit of a strain on Timlin three or four times by bringing him in with two outs in the eighth, but in most of those circumstances we're one run down and trying to give ourselves a shot at winning in the ninth. He hasn't had success, so I've got to get him back to just pitching in the ninth," Miller said.

In Miller's plan, Molina and left-hander Doug Johns will be used mostly in the seventh and eighth innings. Rhodes, who would be joined by Scott Kamieniecki in long relief, and Johns basically will be reversing roles. And left-hander Jesse Orosco would enter in the late innings to get out one or two hitters.

"I want to move Arthur back a little bit and see if we can get some sort of consistency in the strike zone," Miller said, noting that Rhodes has walked 32 batters in 35 1/3 innings.

Around the horn

Brady Anderson left in the seventh inning with cramping in his left hamstring. The fastball that catcher Charles Johnson took in his left rib cage Wednesday night left him sore but available yesterday. "It's bruised but nothing serious," Johnson said. Backup Mike Figga got the start instead and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Though Will Clark has reported significant improvement in his left knee, Miller said he'll continue to use the first baseman "sporadically" until after the All-Star break, limiting him to pinch-hitting duty to make sure there isn't a recurrence of the swelling that has kept him from starting. Miller said the club won't work out during the three-day break. "Try to freshen everybody up a little bit," he said. The Orioles agreed to terms yesterday with 16-year-old Aruban outfielder Quincy Ascencion. He'll report to the Gulf Coast League, but can't play until next season.

Ex's and O's

Willis Otanez yesterday became just the latest ex-Oriole to help Toronto pound the O's.

D Ex-Oriole contributor Res*

4/9 Willie Greene 3 walks 4-7

4/11 G. Berroa 2 walks, RBI 5-9

4/16 Greene tying HR in 6th 6-7

4/17 David Wells 2 ER in 6 2/3 4-7

6/30 Greene tying pinch HR 9-10

7/1 Greene 4-for-5,

winning 2-run hit in 8th 6-8

7/6 Wells 6 IP, 3 runs 3-4

7/7 Greene 2-run HR in 9th 6-7

7/8 Otanez 2 HRs, 3 RBIs 6-11

* Orioles runs listed first

Pub Date: 7/09/99

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