Mobile Ripken plans Camden Yards visit

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

`Recuperating very well,' Miller says

Anderson has strained quadriceps

September 27, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON -- Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken arrived home from a Cleveland hospital on Saturday and is expected to greet his teammates at Camden Yards when they return from the road tomorrow.

Manager Ray Miller spoke with Ripken by telephone yesterday morning. "He's recuperating very well," Miller said. "He said, `I'll see you when you get back.' I asked him if he's able to move around, and he said, `Yes.'"

Ripken had surgery Thursday for nerve root irritation in his lower back. The procedure was performed by Dr. Henry Bohlman at University Hospitals.

The club is optimistic Ripken will make a full recovery and be ready by the start of spring training in February. General manager Frank Wren already has said he expects Ripken to be the Opening Day third baseman, when he'll resume his pursuit of career hit No. 3,000.

Anderson day-to-day

Brady Anderson, who served as the designated hitter yesterday, was removed from the game in the seventh inning after straining his right quadriceps. He's listed as day-to-day.

Anderson suffered the injury while sliding into third base on Mike Bordick's two-run double in the fifth. He knelt on the bag between pitches, leaning back while attempting to ease the discomfort, before scoring on Calvin Pickering's single.

He had reached base by being hit for the 23rd time this season, breaking his club record, set in 1996. At least Anderson got an RBI out of it, because the bases were loaded.

"The leg tightened up a little bit. It was just precautionary to get him out of there," Miller said.

Asked if he'll be able to play tonight, Anderson said: "It's hard to say. We'll have to see. I could go."

Derrick May was inserted as a pinch hitter for Anderson in the seventh and struck out against Boston reliever Bryce Florie.

Odds against Conine

A prolonged slump and disturbing career numbers against the opposing pitcher conspired to keep Jeff Conine out of the lineup.

Conine has only seven hits in his past 58 at-bats (.121) spanning 15 games, dropping his average to .283 in the past 36 games since replacing Will Clark. Those stats weren't expected to get any healthier against Tim Wakefield. Conine is 1-for-12 against Boston's knuckleballer.

"He's been a little frustrated," Miller said. "He went out and got a pitch and smoked it right at the first baseman [Saturday], and the night before he got one hit but hit the ball hard three times."

Conine's misfortune on Saturday included being hit behind the left hand by a pitch from Ramon Martinez in the second inning. The ball removed some of the skin on the hand.

"It's no skin off my teeth," Conine said.

His offensive woes have had no effect on his fielding. Conine continues to provide a dependable glove at first.

"Conine's a gamer. He's not going to carry it onto the field. He's going to go out and make the plays," Miller said.

"It's kind of a frustrating slump. If you're not hitting and not having good swings, that really gets you down. But when you're hitting rockets right at people, it's just confusing. Everybody keeps telling: `You're hitting the ball good. Don't change anything.' "

Pickering pays

Miller gave Pickering the start at first base, and the rookie responded with a two-run single in the fifth inning that knocked Wakefield from the game. Wakefield had walked Albert Belle intentionally to load the bases with two outs.

Pickering was part of a youthful lineup that included third baseman Ryan Minor, second baseman Jesse Garcia and center fielder Eugene Kingsale at the bottom.

"I didn't like playing a lot of kids [Saturday], but against a knuckleballer, it's a different story," Miller said before the game. "They stand as much of a chance as the veterans."

Sox red-faced

Closer Tom Gordon emerged from the Red Sox's bullpen before the ninth inning and was greeted by a rousing ovation. As his name was announced, another roar erupted from a Fenway Park crowd eager to see Gordon pitch for the first time in more than three months.

The fans will have to wait a little longer.

On a day when the Red Sox were charged with three errors, they also committed an embarrassing blunder. Gordon, who had been out with an elbow injury, was supposed to be added to the 40-man roster after the club released pitcher Mark Portugal on Saturday, but he hadn't been activated from the 60-day disabled list.

This was news to manager Jimy Williams, who assumed Gordon was available until receiving a call from GM Dan Duquette.

Williams went to the mound to remove Gordon after a few warm-up tosses. Gordon walked to the dugout, tipping his cap as he neared the steps.

The Orioles had their own bullpen confusion for the second straight game. On Saturday, umpires interpreted a finger Miller pointed at second baseman Jerry Hairston as a signal that he wanted reliever Al Reyes to enter the game. And yesterday, right-hander Mike Timlin trotted onto the field with two outs in the ninth, even though Miller had raised his left hand, a gesture intended for Jesse Orosco.

"I said, `What's going on?' Apparently, the second base umpire [John Hirschbeck] thought I put up my right," Miller said.

Around the horn

Bordick extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double in the fifth. He's batting .364 (12-for-33) against Boston this season. Belle has hit safely in 22 of his past 24 games, batting .422 (38-for-90) with 13 doubles, eight homers and 28 RBIs.

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