With fingers crossed, Rivera joins roster

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Injury-plagued pitcher was part of Braves deal

September 06, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - The last of the three players acquired from the Atlanta Braves before the waiver deadline joined the Orioles yesterday. Pitcher Luis Rivera was added to the staff, with his role still undefined.

Rivera went 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Rochester after being shut down for about three months with tendinitis in his right shoulder. He came to the Orioles along with outfielder Trenidad Hubbard and catcher Francisco Lunar for left fielder B.J. Surhoff and reliever Gabe Molina.

"I'm excited, happy to be here," Rivera said in front of his locker before last night's game against Minnesota.

Regarded as the best prospect among the players obtained before the deadline, Rivera has had health problems the last two seasons in the Braves' organization. He was eased back into competition with Rochester, being limited to two innings before working four in his last outing, when he threw 75 pitches.

"It's almost 100 percent. I'd say I'm probably 90 percent right now," he said. "My arm is feeling good. Every time I pitch or throw, it's getting stronger."

The injury has made for a difficult season for Rivera, but he approved of the July 31 deal, seeing it as a better opportunity to stay in the majors. He began the season in Atlanta, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five relief appearances. He was rated the Braves' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America.

Rivera, who will pitch in Mexico this winter, could be given a start in Tuesday's doubleheader in Texas. If so, he'll become the 22nd pitcher used this season, tied for second-most in franchise history with the 1998 club. The record is 23, in 1955, 1956 and 1995.

Manager Mike Hargrove probably will choose two pitchers from a group that includes Rivera, John Parrish and Jay Spurgeon. Parrish, also recalled from Rochester yesterday, is 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA in seven starts with the Orioles. He started Sunday's game for the Red Wings, allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings in Buffalo.

Two of the runs came in his last inning. Hoping to correct some flaws in his mechanics and regain his command, Parrish found the brief assignment to be beneficial.

"It went well. I felt good," he said. "It was a back-to-reality check mentally. I went down there and was able to throw strikes."

Parrish had been scheduled to start Sunday's game in Cleveland, an assignment that went to Spurgeon. Club officials believed Parrish needed a more relaxed atmosphere.

"I probably would have put a little bit more pressure on myself to do good," he said. "I never lost confidence, though. I just lost focus on throwing strikes up here."

Three back with club

Catcher Willie Morales and infielders Ivanon Coffie and Ryan Minor also reported to the Metrodome yesterday. All three players have previously spent time with the Orioles this season.

Coffie came up from Double-A Bowie on July 15 and batted .173 (9-for-52), with four doubles, a triple and six RBIs in 16 games. He was optioned to Rochester on Aug. 11 and hit .218 (17-for-78), with two doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs in 21 games.

"I just hope to get a chance to play and try to do my best, give 100 percent," he said.

Coffie started 12 games at shortstop and nine at third base with Rochester. "It was good because I got a chance to play more and get some at-bats," he said. It was good to go down there and see different pitchers and get my swing back."

One more Ripken step

Cal Ripken cleared another hurdle last night by starting his third consecutive game. He had played in three games since coming off the disabled list before last night, going 4-for-11 with two doubles and three RBIs.

He's not expected to play today, with limited rest coming before a 12:05 local starting time. He could play in the field for the first time during the four-game series in Anaheim that begins Friday.

Matos moves closer

Outfielder Luis Matos took batting practice yesterday and shagged fly balls as he nears a return from a bruised left shoulder.

Before last night, Matos had been limited to one appearance as a pinch-runner since Aug. 29, when he collided with Detroit first baseman Dean Palmer while trying to beat out a ground ball.

Eugene Kingsale started in center field for the third time in four games.

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