Clark placed on 15-day disabled list

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Strained left hamstring sidelines player

Minor recalled from Rochester

May 04, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Will Clark knew it was serious the moment it happened. His foot hit third base on his way to the plate in the third inning of Tuesday night's game against the Anaheim Angels, and though Clark was able to score, he went into the dugout fearing the worst.

Yesterday, it became a reality. Clark was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, removing the American League's leader in on-base percentage and fifth-leading hitter from the Orioles' lineup. Infielder Ryan Minor was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his place.

Clark, 36, had led off the inning with a double over the head of Angels' center fielder Garret Anderson. With two outs, Brady Anderson lined a single into shallow left field. Clark slid home safely as the throw was cut off, catching Anderson in a rundown.

"It happened when I hit the bag. I knew it the whole way home. I knew I pulled it," Clark said.

After Clark reached the dugout, he sought out trainer Richie Bancells. Attempts to stretch out the leg were futile, and Clark was removed for Rich Amaral. He limped into the clubhouse yesterday and met again with Bancells.

"I'm hoping 15 days will be enough, but I got it pretty good," he said.

Clark appeared in only 77 games last season, his first with the Orioles after signing a two-year contract, because of a broken thumb and bone chips in his left elbow that required surgery on Aug. 26. He batted .303 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs.

Able to begin rehabbing the elbow shortly after the procedure, Clark arrived early to spring training intent on making up for lost time and encouraged by having full range of motion in the arm. His double Tuesday raised his average to .367 (22-for-60) and his on-base percentage to .524. Batting seventh this year, he also had drawn 19 walks and scored 18 runs.

"Disappointing's not the word," said Clark, who has been on the disabled list 10 times. "For as much work as I put in this off-season and spring training, and to get off to the start I'm off to and the team's off to, disappointing's not near a bad enough word.

"You try to stay positive. I'll take a few days off here and get the ice therapy and the electronic stimulation. And then get back from the DL and see if I can continue where I left off."

Said manager Mike Hargrove: "He's been a very big part of what we've done up to now. We'll miss Will."

Early morning call

Minor was awakened by a phone call around 8 a.m. yesterday instructing him to catch a flight to Baltimore. He left behind a .265 batting average with five homers and 17 RBIs in 21 games.

"I have no idea what's going on," said Minor, who will back up Jeff Conine at first. "I just show up, and I'll go where they tell me to go."

Minor appeared in 46 games with the Orioles last season, batting .194 with three homers and 10 RBIs. He played first base once and committed an error. He was strictly a third baseman with the Red Wings this year. "If they want me to play first, then I'll play first. It's not new. It's just another opportunity to play and help out the team," he said.

"The guys here have been swinging the bats pretty good. I don't want to disrupt anything. I just want to go out and play."

By choosing Minor, 26, the Orioles bypassed first baseman Calvin Pickering, who's batting .203 with three homers, nine RBIs and 14 walks in 21 games. After a horrendous start, he was batting .428 with two homers in his past six games before last night.

"Ryan can play first, he can play third, and he can play the outfield. He did it a little bit in spring training during batting practice, catching fly balls out there. He gives us a right-handed bat and a little more versatility," Hargrove said.

Minor will wear No. 29 since No. 10 has been claimed by utility infielder Mark Lewis.

"Maybe a number change will be good for me," Minor said. "Maybe they won't know it's me so they won't boo."

With Conine playing first base, Harold Baines probably can expect to get more at-bats against left-handed pitching.

Groom in a groove

Reliever Buddy Groom entered last night's game having allowed one run in his past seven appearances, spanning 7 2/3 innings. Left-handers were 0-for-12 with two walks, enhancing his reputation as a specialist. But he's been almost as difficult to hit on the other side, which belies that same reputation.

Last season, right-handers batted .315 (23-for-73) against Groom while he pitched for the Oakland Athletics, compared to .245 by left-handers. Late-inning strategies often were built around those numbers. But left-handers were hitting .182 (6-for-33), with three walks and four strikeouts, before last night.

Groom said the difference has been a cut fastball that he began throwing again this season.

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