Stahl opts for O's bucks over Tech's books

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Left-handed pick signs for about $2 million

Mussina, Rhodes just sore

August 24, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Orioles completed a historic amateur draft yesterday by signing first-round pick Richard Stahl on the day he was scheduled to report to classes at Georgia Tech.

Terms were not disclosed, but it's believed Stahl signed for between $1.8 million and $2.1 million. Outfielder Darnell McDonald received a record $1.95 million bonus in 1997.

Stahl, 18, became the draft's 18th overall pick when the Orioles successfully gambled that the Covington, Ga., pitcher would be available five slots after their first pick, used to select Clemson pitcher Mike Paradis. Paradis eventually signed for $1.7 million.

The Orioles had seven of the first 50 picks in the draft and have signed their first 13 overall.

Three of the four players drafted between Paradis and Stahl signed for bonuses of $1.675 million, $1.675 million and $1.725 million. Stahl, said by some scouts to be the most gifted left-handed prep pitcher in the draft, refused to be slotted and attended orientation at Georgia Tech on Friday.

General manager Frank Wren reached agreement with Stahl's adviser, Steve Hammonds, hours after Stahl decided to play hooky.

"I don't think it was dramatic," Wren said. "I think we pretty much knew [Sunday] that we had a good chance of getting it done. He wasn't at school today. We talked and got it worked out."

Stahl was signed to a 2000 contract and will report to the instructional league next month. At Newton (Ga.) High School last season, he went 11-0 with a 2.40 ERA over 79 innings. He struck out 140 batters.

Wren quickly tried to discourage any comparisons between the 6-foot-7 Stahl and leading prospect Matt Riley.

"Even though [Stahl] has real good stuff and we saw him in Atlanta you just never know until a player gets into the system. There are little things you can't see in a workout, like how he holds runners and how he holds his stuff in the stretch as opposed to his windup. Until we get a chance to see him in competition, it's hard to project," Wren said.

Mussina, Rhodes check out

Yesterday's precautionary examinations of pitchers Mike Mussina and Arthur Rhodes in Baltimore revealed nothing more severe than what team trainers had initially diagnosed Sunday after both were knocked from a 9-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Mussina underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test that revealed no structural damage to his right rotator cuff. Mussina, who along with Rhodes is expected to rejoin the team today, suffered a contusion of the deltoid muscle on a line drive by White Sox catcher Brook Fordyce.

Mussina attempted two warm-up pitches, but complained of discomfort when he reached the release point of his delivery.

Mussina's push for his first 20-win season will at least suffer a postponement, if not a cancellation.

Manager Ray Miller said he does not anticipate Mussina's taking his scheduled turn in Detroit on Friday. The pitcher said Sunday he would not risk additional injury by throwing before swelling had diminished and any accompanying soreness had evaporated.

Should Mussina's start be bumped back one day, Miller said he is inclined to ask last night's starter, Scott Erickson, to appear on three days' rest.

Neither Miller nor Wren would speculate on who would take Mussina's turn if he skips his start. Doug Linton is scheduled to start tomorrow night's game against the Royals on three days' rest.

Either way, Mussina's pursuit of 20 wins now hinges on his winning five of at most seven remaining starts.

Rhodes' injury is not believed severe, but because of his daily role, a roster move is more likely. After meeting for about 15 minutes with Miller, Wren downplayed the possibility so close to Sept. 1, when rosters may expand. However, there is sentiment within some quarters to get a longer look at left-hander B. J. Ryan, whom the Orioles acquired from the Cincinnati Reds on July 31 as part of the trade involving Juan Guzman.

Rhodes is expected to miss four to five days, leaving the team with six relievers. Should Rhodes remain unavailable into the weekend, Wren said he would then consider a roster move.

Ripken close to swinging

Cal Ripken celebrates his 39th birthday today. As a present to himself, he may engage in baseball-related exercises for the first time since back spasms returned him to the disabled list.

Ripken indicated Sunday he has experienced sustained improvement in the past several days and believes he can begin an on-site rehab with the club this week.

A repeat of May's rehabilitation assignment in Sarasota is not an option. It's more likely that he would participate in a simulated game thrown by batting practice pitchers and coaches.

Miller said he believes it unlikely Ripken will be able to play before the club returns from this week's trip.

"Right now, we're not really sure," Wren said. "But I have an idea that when it comes, it'll happen in a hurry."

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