Minor takes wing for Ripken return

Orioles notebook

He heads back to Rochester

Mussina in minor crash

July 21, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Another game passed without Cal Ripken in the lineup, but it should be the last for a while.

The Orioles returned Ryan Minor to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings after last night's game, and manager Ray Miller said Ripken would start tonight in Boston.

Ripken hit on the field again yesterday and further tested his right wrist with strong throws to first base during pre-game drills. Encouraged by his progress, Ripken said he was targeting tonight for his return.

He had swung at about half-speed on Monday, backing off after feeling some discomfort when adding a little more effort. After hitting yesterday, he said the wrist felt better than it had the previous day.

"My throwing is pretty good," he said before last night's game. "I'm going to test that a little more aggressively with ground balls, but I don't anticipate that being a problem."

Ripken hasn't been available since being hit on the wrist by Montreal's Mike Thurman on Thursday. Minor started in his place again last night.

Miller said Ripken probably could have played last night but preferred to wait another day.

"He's been here since noon, I think. He did a clinic and hit in the cage. It's better," Miller said.

"He said it feels great. Hopefully it'll be all right [tonight]. I just wanted him to feel comfortable with it. Obviously, I miss that .300 batting average."

Minor started the last four games after being summoned from Rochester, going 1-for-10 with four strikeouts. His only hit came last night in the fourth inning when he blooped a single to center field.

"I reminded him that he gets frustrated, but he hasn't played that much baseball," Miller said.

"I got a lot out of this," Minor said. "I kind of got away from trying to drive the ball. I got back to lifting the ball. I was trying to get a hit every time up and was putting pressure on myself."

To fill Minor's roster spot, the Orioles are expected to add another pitcher today, returning the staff to 12.

Mussina in fender-bender

A car driven by Orioles ace Mike Mussina was hit from behind by a teen-age girl's car at a stoplight while he was on his way to Camden Yards to participate in a Ripken clinic yesterday morning.

Mussina complained of a headache last night but is expected to make tonight's start in Boston.

DeShields moves to Bowie

Delino DeShields' traveling road show has made another stop. The Orioles second baseman continued his minor-league injury rehab assignment last night at Double-A Bowie after getting eight at-bats with Single-A Frederick and seven with lower Single-A Delmarva.

DeShields, who went on the disabled list retroactive to June 20 with a strained right hamstring, will remain with the Baysox tonight before being re-evaluated. Going into last night, he was 3-for-15 with two homers since leaving the Orioles.

This is DeShields' second rehab assignment with Bowie. He was 2-for-6 in two games while recuperating from a fractured left thumb suffered in spring training.

O's give up on Shepherd

The Orioles have released former No. 1 pick Alvie Shepherd, whose career has been defined by a series of injuries.

Shepherd, 25, was pitching at Frederick after beginning the year at extended spring training and rookie league Bluefield. He had surgery on his right shoulder Sept. 1 to repair nerve damage.

Shepherd, the 22nd overall pick in the 1995 draft out of Nebraska, was 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA in three games at Frederick. His best season was 1997, when he was 10-6 in 22 appearances at Bowie. He was limited to nine games last year, including six at Bowie, because of the shoulder injury. He never rose higher than Double-A.

At 'em balls hurt Hairston

Rookie Jerry Hairston made his 22nd consecutive start at second base last night. Though he was batting .311 over his last 12 games, he was 2-for-18 since the All-Star break before last night.

Hairston has been hitting into some tough luck. He seems to average at least one line drive a game that's aimed directly at an infielder.

"I'm not swinging that bad," he said. "That's just how the game is. If they go through, instead of going 0-for-3, I'd be 1-for-3 and hitting .333."

That's what he was last night, leading off the second inning with a single and adding a walk and a stolen base in the eighth in the Orioles' 4-1 victory.

Hairston still is uncertain if he'll remain with the club when DeShields comes off the DL, assuming the club doesn't trade the veteran.

"I want to be here," Hairston said. "I've learned more here than I did in Rochester. I want to be here and help this team win games. If it means me coming off the bench, I'll do that."

He's making sure to observe and absorb as much as possible.

"I'm getting a chance to play alongside some great players and learning a lot," he said. "It's a great opportunity, playing with guys like Cal, B.J. [Surhoff], Harold Baines, Brady Anderson, Will Clark. I've learned you can't be perfect. You strive for perfection, of course, and try to do the best that you can, but you're going to go through some down periods.

"You're going to have some high periods, too. You try to be even-keel. And just watching their approach. They're always prepared. When this team steps out on the field, you know we're ready to play. They have fun, but at the same time it's business."

Around the horn

Miller had considered resting Clark, but decided to use him as the designated hitter against Mets left-hander Al Leiter and give Baines some time off. Baines is playing with a sore right shoulder. Miller also was swayed by Clark's numbers against Leiter. Though only 3-for-15, one of those hits was a home run. Clark was 0-for-3 last night, but forced in a run when he was hit by Leiter in the first inning.

Pub Date: 7/21/99

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