Elbow exam leaves Clark closer to DL

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

First baseman able to hit but not throw

Eckersley enhances Orosco tribute

August 21, 1999|By Roch Kubatko and Jamison Hensley | Roch Kubatko and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Orioles first baseman Will Clark had his left elbow examined by team doctors yesterday, and it appears more likely that he will go on the disabled list for the second time this season.

Only last night's rainout kept Clark from missing his sixth consecutive game because of soreness in the elbow that prevents him from throwing. He's able to swing the bat without discomfort, and manager Ray Miller suggested Clark could remain on the active roster as a designated hitter and pinch hitter.

"I don't think there's any progression as far as throwing," Miller said. "There's a chance he could go on the DL. We'll have to wait and see how the medical people react to it. He told me he can hit. He said, `As long as I'm here, I can hit.' "

But after the postponement, Miller said he doubted whether Clark would be ready for today's day-night doubleheader. Alluding to the disabled list, Miller said, "We're going to sit down and have a serious talk."

Clark received a cortisone shot in the elbow on Monday after sitting out the two previous games in Cleveland. The elbow began to swell while the club was in Tampa Bay and got worse once the series began with the Indians.

Clark has had two surgeries on the elbow, the most recent in November 1996.

"He's still available to pinch hit so we'll play it as a day-by-day thing," said general manager Frank Wren. "If it becomes a situation where he's not available, that's another issue. We'll have to watch and see where it goes."

Jeff Conine will continue to start in Clark's place, keeping a hot bat in the lineup. He went 9-for-11 (.818) in the three-game series against Minnesota, including three doubles, a homer and four RBIs. Conine is hitting .362 (34-for-94) in his last 29 games.

Orosco overwhelmed

It was the easiest appearance in Orioles reliever Jesse Orosco's career. And he received a standing ovation for it.

In a 10-minute pre-game ceremony just before a steady downpour that eventually forced the postponement, Orosco was honored last night on the Camden Yards pitching mound where he set Major League Baseball's all-time record for games pitched at 1,072 on Tuesday.

After a replay of his record-breaking appearance on the JumboTron, the Orioles presented Orosco with his jersey encased in a frame and signed by all his teammates. Out in the bullpen, Dennis Eckersley, the former record holder, unveiled a plaque commemorating Tuesday's achievement with Orosco's No. 47 sitting above it.

"It was overwhelming," said Orosco, who had to pause in the middle of his on-field speech to collect himself. "It was a total surprise. When they told me they were going to award me with this ceremony, I didn't picture it this colorful seeing Dennis Eckersley, coming from the bullpen, my family right there and the welcome I got from the fans."

Orosco, 42, the second oldest player in Orioles history, debuted in 1979 with the New York Mets and played for three other clubs before signing with the Orioles in April 1995 as a free agent. He moved ahead of Eckersley with a two-pitch performance on Tuesday, retiring the only batter he faced.

Eckersley, who finished his career with Boston last year, remembers the exact time when his record was in jeopardy.

"Jesse called and let me know at the end of last season," said Eckersley, who fills in on Red Sox and Oakland Athletics radio broadcasts. "That's when I knew."

Said Orosco: "I said I was right on his tail and I'm coming to get you. He just laughed and said: `You can have it.' "

Eckersley also showed some envy toward the flawless, record-breaking night for Orosco. When Eckersley tied and surpassed Hoyt Wilhelm last season, Orioles outfielder B. J. Surhoff homered off him in both games.

"I'm just trying to get a couple of appearances and B. J. juices me both times," Eckersley said. "So I'm coming off the field and everybody wants to shake my hand. But I didn't want to shake anyone's hand. I was [ticked]."

Feeling `sorry' for Reboulet

Another day passed without Jeff Reboulet in the lineup. He's been there only 36 times this season, and Miller said he "felt sorry" for the veteran infielder. But Miller also reasoned that with the club facing so few left-handers, and with Mike Bordick crafting a strong season, there haven't been many opportunities for the veteran infielder.

He's also been stuck with some sickly numbers. Reboulet has just two hits in his last 34 at-bats covering 25 games, and just one RBI since June 16. Overall, he is batting .169 with three extra-base hits -- all doubles. He has committed two errors in 71 games.

"You never feel bad about putting Rebs in the field. He always makes good plays one way or the other, no matter where you put him," Miller said. "If our club had performed better this year and we had a better record, he would be even more valuable.

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