Orioles release Amaral, end injured veteran's waiting game

July 29, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The emergence of rookie Luis Matos proved more costly to Rich Amaral than an injured calf muscle. Amaral, who began the season as a backup outfielder, was released by the Orioles yesterday as part of their roster shuffling that included the return of infielder Ryan Minor and promotion of reliever Ryan Kohlmeier.

Amaral hadn't played since June 14, when he collected two hits and drove in two runs while batting leadoff against Texas. He awoke the next day barely able to walk and went on the disabled list with a strained calf muscle. He had been doing some jogging in the outfield before games, under the supervision of trainer Richie Bancells, but the club never set a timetable for his return.

Yesterday, the Orioles set him loose.

"Richie has been on the disabled list for almost two months. Given the fact that Matos has done what he's done and we have other players there we're looking at, we knew at some point and time this would probably happen with Richie anyway," said manager Mike Hargrove. "We needed the roster spot so we decided to just go ahead and do it now."

Amaral, 38, was in his second season with the Orioles. He was batting .217 (13-for-60) in 30 games. His place on the 40-man roster has been filled by catcherM-wfirst baseman Mike Kinkade, one of the players acquired from the New York Mets yesterday for shortstop Mike Bordick.

Minor had played in four games while rehabbing a pulled rib cage muscle. He made two appearances with the Gulf Coast Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., and two more with Single-A Frederick. Minor assumed he would remain with the Keys or move up to Triple-A Rochester while looking to regain his timing.

"This is a little earlier than I expected," he said, "but I haven't got time to worry about that."

You want to come back when you're ready, you want to come back and be productive, but I'm at the point where I've got to start playing and do the best I can."

Minor, who had been on the disabled list retroactive to July 5, has batted .238 (5-for-21) in nine games with the Orioles. He said the pain in his side has subsided, enabling him to replace Mark Lewis on the roster. Lewis went on the disabled list Thursday with a strained left hamstring.

"It feels fine. There's no problem at all," Minor said of his side.

Hargrove held him out of the lineup last night, starting Jeff Conine at third base and moving rookie Ivanon Coffie to shortstop as Bordick's replacement until Melvin Mora arrives today.

Minor, 26, could be running out of chances with the Orioles. Once regarded as the future replacement for Cal Ripken at third base, he's hitting .220 (35-for-159) with three homers and 11 RBIs in parts of three seasons in the majors.

"This is an opportunity to play. If you get an opportunity, you've got to make the most of it," he said.

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