Clark may be headed back to DL

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Ailing elbow forces him to miss fifth game in row

August 20, 1999|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss | Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Orioles first baseman Will Clark missed his fifth straight game because of a sore left elbow and could be nearing a second trip to the disabled list.

Clark, who received a cortisone shot on Monday, has been able to swing the bat without discomfort. He hasn't been as fortunate when trying to throw, however, so he remained available yesterday only as a pinch hitter.

"It's still barking at him," said manager Ray Miller. "It's not that you have to have the greatest of arms to play first, but you've got to be able to throw the ball. It's still bothering him."

If Clark goes on the DL without getting an at-bat, the move would be retroactive to last Saturday. Asked if this was becoming a stronger possibility, Miller hesitated before saying, "I would imagine if something doesn't resolve itself in a few days, we're going to have to do something."

Miller added if he thought Clark could win a game by batting in the late innings, he probably would use him even if it meant not being able to make a DL assignment retroactive to last week.

Loading Up, Part II

While his manager offered little more than mild amusement, Minnesota Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins yesterday denied claims by Miller that he doctored the ball during his five-hit, complete game loss on Wednesday night. Hawkins explained his effectiveness by citing an improved split-finger pitch that he has adopted this season. The two teams had not played each other until this week's three-game series.

"My splitter was just moving yesterday, that's all," said Hawkins. "It's one of those pitches that when you've got it going good, it's going good. When it goes bad, it's going bad."

Miller cited a strikeout of Albert Belle as evidence. According to Miller, the ball abruptly dove down and out, leading him to insinuate Hawkins had loaded the ball.

Hawkins admitted the ball was scuffed, which can enhance movement, but said he only benefited from a ball left in play too long.

"The first time I struck out Belle the ball came back to me scuffed up, so I just threw it," Hawkins said. "It wasn't like I scuffed it. I wish I knew how to cheat."

Twins manager Tom Kelly refused to fuel Miller's allegations surrounding Hawkins' "new pitch." During batting practice he playfully yelled at Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley, "We don't have anything else to do over here than teach our players spitters."

A former member of Miller's coaching staff before succeeding him as Twins manager in 1987, Kelly said, "If others think he's doing it, that's fine. It gives them something else to talk about."

O's, Wings extend deal

As expected, the Orioles and their Triple-A affiliate in Rochester agreed on a one-year extension of their 39-year-old working arrangement. The move was announced yesterday but had been reached in principle when the Orioles played an exhibition in Rochester on June 28.

While the Orioles pushed for a three-year extension, Red Wings management accepted only one because of disenchantment with the Orioles' recent flow of prospects, among other things.

Orioles vice chairman and chief operating officer Joe Foss said that "extending the affiliation by one year allows us to bring our working agreement into line with the plans of the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, which is to have all minor-league agreements set up to be renewable after even-numbered years."

Despite the lengthy ties to the Orioles, the Red Wings are receptive to the possibility of a future arrangement with either the Pittsburgh Pirates or New York Mets. Likewise, the Orioles have long been intrigued by the possibility of moving their International League affiliate in-state, most likely to Bowie.

Figga looks ahead

Knowing the club wants him to get more at-bats after the season, catcher Mike Figga said he probably will play this fall. He also would welcome some time off.

Accomplishing both might prove a bit tricky.

Figga made his 13th start yesterday, going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and committing his fourth error. He also permitted two stolen bases, each time bouncing his throw. He's 9-for-46 since being claimed off waivers on June 3.

All of Figga's at-bats this season have come with the Orioles. He was used only as a defensive replacement by the New York Yankees, in both ends of a May 22 doubleheader. Hence, the suggestion that he get in some extra swings.

"I hope to," he said. "I don't know where I'm going to go, but I need the at-bats. I don't want to spend all winter playing, though. I haven't had a break in a couple years."

Around the horn

When Al Reyes retired the side in the eighth, it was the first time in his eight appearances with the Orioles that he entered a game with the lead. It also was the first time he hadn't struck out at least one batter. He's given up only one run in 11 innings since being acquired from Milwaukee in the Rocky Coppinger trade. Brady Anderson stole two bases and is 29-for-34 this season (85 percent).

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