Miller puts bat back in Ripken's hands

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

If Iron Man says he is ready, he'll return tonight

Fetters is due back, too

September 01, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Another round of baseball-related activities passed without any setbacks for Cal Ripken, and the Orioles third baseman is expected to be activated before tonight's game against Tampa Bay.

Ripken moved freely as he took batting practice and infield yesterday. The club chose to delay activating him in part because rosters expand today, eliminating the need to clear space for his return.

"Cal will probably be activated, but I don't know whether he'll play or not. It depends how he feels," said manager Ray Miller.

"We'll put him on [the roster] and see how he is. He felt pretty good coming off [Monday]. He said he wanted to hit one more day and make sure everything's all right.

"I'll leave it up to him. As soon as he feels like he's ready to go, I'll put him in there."

Ripken's next home run will be the 400th of his career. He remains 32 hits shy of 3,000 in a season where his pursuit of two milestones has been matched by an equal number of trips to the disabled list.

He hasn't played since being stricken with spasms in his lower back while eating breakfast before an Aug. 1 game in Seattle. Ripken had hit safely in 18 of his last 20 games, batting .400 with 11 doubles, five homers and 17 RBIs.

With Ripken unavailable for another night, Ryan Minor made his 26th start at third base last night. He was 0-for-16 on the just-concluded road trip and was 0-for-1 with a walk last night. He is hitting .188 (13-for-69) in his last 24 games since his second recall from Triple-A Rochester.

Fetters expected back, too

Another roster move today most likely will involve reliever Mike Fetters, who completed an injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Rochester and returned to Camden Yards yesterday.

Fetters didn't allow a hit in four games spanning 3 2/3 innings. He pitched twice in Pawtucket and twice in Rochester, never experiencing pain or restrictions in his right elbow.

Fetters' command improved after the first night, when he walked two and said he had no clue where the ball was going.

"The last couple nights I threw the ball pretty decent," he said. "I've still got to get the velocity back up, but after that I'm ready to go. As long as I get the movement and put the ball where I want to, I'll be OK."

Fetters hasn't pitched since June 6. He needed surgery later that month to remove bone chips and spurs from his right elbow.

Other than Ripken and Fetters, Miller said the Orioles probably won't add anyone else to the roster until Sept. 6, when Rochester concludes its season in Buffalo.

Saturday for Mussina?

Mike Mussina will miss his second start tonight since being struck on the right shoulder by a line drive during an Aug. 22 game against Chicago at Camden Yards. Miller has his ace scheduled to start Saturday's game against Cleveland, as Mussina pursues his first 20-win season.

"Right now I have him going five days from now, but that's written in pencil," Miller said. "As he told you [reporters] and I told him, I wasn't going to pitch him if he had any lingering pain or stiffness or anything. I don't want him to hurt something else."

Miller praises Wren

Miller took some time during his pre-game session with the media to defend his relationship with general manager Frank Wren and his use of the word "dysfunctional" to describe his roster during the weekend, when the Orioles were down to three bench players before outfielder Eugene Kingsale's promotion from Rochester.

"A rift between me and Frank? We meet before and after every game. I know what's going on and he knows what's going on," Miller said.

"Just because a Detroit writer asked why I didn't pinch hit for [Jeff] Reboulet even though I didn't have anybody on the bench and I got [angry] doesn't mean I hate Frank or I'm blaming Frank. I know why we don't have people here and why we have to do what we do until Wednesday. There's no big rift.

"Frank's going to do a heck of a job here. He's got the minor leagues in the best shape they've ever been in."

Lefty completes Baines deal

The Orioles have acquired left-hander Jimmy Hamilton as the player to be named in Friday's trade that sent Harold Baines to the Cleveland Indians for right-hander Juan Aracena.

Hamilton, 24, was 1-2 with a 5.18 ERA in 24 games at Triple-A Buffalo. He began the season at Double-A Akron, where he went 0-2 with a 3.73 ERA in 25 games. He has pitched exclusively in relief the last two seasons after beginning his pro career as a starter.

Hamilton, who resides in Weyers Cave, Va., will be assigned to Rochester.

Another young lefty in town

Left-hander Richard Stahl, the last of the Orioles' four first-round picks to sign, was in Baltimore yesterday to receive his physical.

"It's been crazy," he said. "I got here around 11: 55 and since then I've been going and going."

Stahl, the 18th overall pick in the draft, will report to the instructional league in Lakeland, Fla., on Sept. 20. He signed with the Orioles on Aug. 23, the day classes started at Georgia Tech. He would have re-entered the draft next year if he had attended a class, depriving the Orioles of a pitcher who went 11-0 with a 2.40 ERA at Newton (Ga.) High.

"Georgia Tech was a great school. But I'm glad we could work things out with the Orioles. This is my first love," he said.

Stahl was the smallest player on his ninth-grade team, but has shot up to 6 feet 7. "I've probably grown 8 inches the last couple years," he said.

Around the horn

Jose Canseco, who went 2-for-4, is 10-for-25 since returning from the disabled list Aug. 20. All 10 hits have been singles. Orioles prospect Erik Bedard was named Pitcher of the Week in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Pub Date: 9/01/99

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