Ponson says neck is `much better'


He'll throw on side today

no Ripken timetable yet

July 23, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson, who left his previous start after five innings because of neck stiffness, has slept in a brace the past two nights to alleviate any discomfort but expects to take his next turn in the rotation.

A magnetic resonance imaging taken Friday didn't reveal anything more severe than a strained muscle, which occurred in the third inning when Ponson fell toward first base while making a pitch.

"The fourth inning I started to feel it a little bit, and by the fifth inning it really stiffened up. After that, I told them and they took me out of the game," said Ponson, whose next start is tentatively set for Tuesday at Camden Yards.

Ponson was charged with eight runs and 11 hits in five innings, leaving him 5-6 with a 5.46 ERA.

"I was down on myself after the game because I couldn't move my neck," he said. "But the MRI told me it's nothing serious, nothing wrong with my spine, so that was a relief. I was real nervous. But it's much better right now. It only hurts a little bit."

Ponson will throw in the bullpen before today's series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. "I'll know more after that," he said.

Manager Mike Hargrove indicated that Ponson and Scott Erickson, who is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, could switch places in the rotation.

"It's a little better than it was the day before," Hargrove said. "For right now, he's still on his scheduled day. We may flip those guys around. We'll see."

As for tomorrow's starter, Hargrove continues to withhold making an announcement. Not that it's a complex mystery.

Left-hander John Parrish isn't being used out of the bullpen this series. Barring a drastic reversal, his major-league debut will occur tomorrow night against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

1-and-1 for Ripken

The Orioles continue to use a teaspoon when dispensing information on Cal Ripken. According to the latest update, provided yesterday by trainer Richie Bancells through Hargrove, Ripken remains in a pattern of working out one day and resting the next. There's still no timetable for his return.

"He's continuing on his program and he continues to progress every day. We'll obviously know more when we get back," Hargrove said.

"We did talk a little about him coming to Toronto and thought that was probably the wrong thing to do because of the plane ride. Cal decided to stay back, which I think was a wise choice."

Bruising the record book

It won't captivate audiences like Mark McGwire's pursuit of Roger Maris' home run record, but Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson keeps inching toward baseball history - one bruise at a time.

Anderson was hit by pitches twice yesterday, tying him with Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk for 15th place on the all-time list with 143. He began the day tied for 17th before passing Art Fletcher and Nellie Fox when Toronto starter Esteban Loaiza nailed him in the first and fourth innings.

"Realistically I'll probably get hit 40 more times," Anderson joked afterward. "Where will that put me?"

Nowhere near all-time leader Hughie Jennings, the turn-of-the-century shortstop of the original Orioles. He was hit by 287 pitches

Around the horn

Harold Baines moved past Frank Howard and Jim Rice into 38th place on the all-time home run list with 383 on Friday. He has 10 career walk-off homers, the most among active players. Sammy Sosa is second with eight, and Will Clark is third with seven. ... Right fielder Raul Mondesi was a late scratch because of a sore elbow. Marty Cordova replaced him. ... The Blue Jays activated shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the disabled list and optioned reliever Leo Estrella to Syracuse. Estrella gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings on Friday.

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