Orioles reliever Mike Fetters threw about 40 pitches off a mound in the indoor cage yesterday and remains encouraged by his progress from elbow surgery. He accompanied the team to Tampa Bay last night and could begin a rehab assignment in the minors within the next two weeks.
Throwing only fastballs, Fetters said the elbow was free of the pain that had forced him on the disabled list on June 7 and required surgery two weeks later to remove bone chips and spurs. He had been scheduled for a bullpen session but was confined indoors because of rain.
"A mound is a mound as far as I'm concerned. It's better than a doctor's table," he said. "I was just concentrating on keeping the ball down. It was for my mechanics and timing more than anything."
Pitching coach Bruce Kison watched Fetters throw and relayed a positive report to trainer Richie Bancells.
"Bruce said he was a lot [farther along] than he expected," said manager Ray Miller. "We'll take him with us and continue to work him out and do the rehab stuff and let him throw a couple more times on the side, then make a decision. He'd probably want to go out there and pitch right now if you let him."
Following a stop in the minors, Fetters may not be activated until rosters are expanded next month. He'll try to discourage club officials from such a wait.
"I'm trying to get back as soon as possible. I'll push the issue," he said, grinning.
"Really, I'm leaving it up to them. It's just good to be back."
Fetters said he was embarrassed by his numbers before going on the DL -- the 5.48 ERA and five homers allowed in 23 innings -- but finds some solace in knowing that his health was an issue and that there shouldn't be any restrictions once he returns.
"That's not me. I'm better than that," he said. "I can finish my pitches now. I'm not going to baby them and cut them off."
Fetters, 34, had been concerned that he might also be dealing with a torn ligament in the arm, which he said would have caused him to retire. But he only needed to have the elbow cleaned. Fetters had a similar procedure done earlier in his career, though there wasn't nearly as much debris.
"I think it's just the way I throw," he said. "I have a violent delivery. I abuse my body. There's a lot of wear and tear from throwing."
B. J. Surhoff's turn to rest came Saturday, when he stayed on the bench until replacing Jeff Conine in left field to start the ninth. Yesterday, Harold Baines got a blow despite driving in four runs the previous night. Tomorrow, it's expected to be Will Clark.
Surhoff's consecutive-games streak, the longest in the majors, reached 273 yesterday. Miller indicated he won't end it this season by holding Surhoff out for an entire game.
"He's prepared to play every day and he's too valuable a player," Miller said.
"Does [the streak] mean something to him? Not at the expense of winning and losing, but yes, I'm sure it does. He's a very prideful man. He prepares very hard, works very hard."
Miller wants to give Clark a break from the turf at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field.
Waiting on 5th starter
The Orioles won't need a fifth starter until Aug. 20 against the Chicago White Sox at Camden Yards, then again on Aug. 25 in Kansas City.
Miller said yesterday it was too soon to project who would fill those spots in the rotation. "I'm sure everybody will have plenty of assumptions by then," he said.
Ricky Bones went 3 2/3 innings in his second start.
Around the horn
The start of the game was delayed 33 minutes because of rain. Detroit's Juan Encarnacion had five RBIs in the four games.
Pub Date: 8/09/99