Ripken targets tonight for return

Orioles notebook

Mussina in minor crash

ex-No. 1 Shepherd dropped

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

Another game passed without Cal Ripken in the lineup, but it may have been the last for a while.

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's 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 Thursday. Ryan Minor started in his place again last night.

Manager Ray Miller also said he expects Ripken to play tonight in the opener of a two-game series in Boston.

"He probably could go [last night], but he'll rest one more day," Miller said. "He's been here since noon, I think. He did a clinic and hit in the cage. It's better.

"He said it feels great. Hopefully it'll be all right [tonight]. I just wanted him to feel comfortable with it. When you have something like that, the first day you kind of feel through it, the second day it feels pretty good and the third day you go at it pretty good. And if you're clear in your mind you can do it, you're OK. If you're not, that's when you get in bad habits.

"Obviously I miss that .300 batting average."

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 serious 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.

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, with a single and a stolen base 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. I want to be on this team. There's no substitute.

"You always hear this is the only place to play and they're right. There's nothing like it. I really feel like I'm a part of this team."

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 last night, 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, but forced in a run when he was hit by Leiter in the first inning. Rickey Henderson scored his 2,062nd run, tying Willie Mays for fifth on the career list. The Mets' Edgardo Alfonzo has hit in 10 straight games and has RBIs in 21 of his last 33 games. The Orioles stole four bases in five attempts, with the only miss by Rich Amaral coming on a controversial call in the first inning that led to Miller's ejection.

Pub Date: 7/21/99

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