FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The loose infield dirt on the main field claimed an Oriole yesterday when first baseman David Segui had to be scratched from the intrasquad game with a strained right hamstring.
Segui's foot apparently slipped in a hole while doing a cutoff-relay drill and he didn't play as a precaution. He'll be evaluated again today, when the Orioles will conduct an abbreviated workout before tomorrow's exhibition opener against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.
"The dirt gave and he strained the hamstring a little bit. We don't think it's anything bad. We just decided to keep him out the rest of the day and see where he's at [today]," manager Mike Hargrove said.
"It kind of cramped," Segui said, "but I could tell it wasn't a cramp. It didn't really pull, so I wanted to get out of there before it did. I should be OK."
Segui signed a four-year deal with the Orioles in December. Chris Richard, the player who's being moved from first base to make room for him, is recovering from his own leg ailment.
Richard continues to receive treatment for a strained quadriceps muscle in his right leg. He felt a twinge while chasing a fly ball and was kept out of yesterday's intrasquad game, though Hargrove said Richard probably could have played.
"It's fine. It's just a couple-days thing," Richard said. "It's just something I've got to keep an eye on. It doesn't bother me when I hit, just an all-out sprint. But today it felt pretty good."
Said Hargrove: "I think he's ready to go. If we were into the season, he more than likely would have played the last couple days."
Ripken on the mend
Though third baseman Cal Ripken hasn't been dealt any setbacks while his cracked rib heals, he probably remains two weeks away from swinging a bat. That would put him at four weeks, more than halfway through spring training without taking part in full baseball-related activities.
"Without trying to put any limitations on him, if we can get Cal 15-25 at bats, at this stage of his career he should be OK," Hargrove said.
Belle to skip first trip
The Orioles will travel to Jupiter tomorrow without Albert Belle, but he's expected to make the next two trips. He'll also start in right field in Saturday's game in Fort Lauderdale.
The club heads to Vero Beach for Sunday's game against Los Angeles, and to Port St. Lucie for Monday's game against the New York Mets. Both trips can be made in less than two hours by car.
"I'm not holding him back because of any concerns or limitations. He'll make road trips. That's part of it," Hargrove said.
"I'm only holding him back [tomorrow] because it's his turn out of the box. He'll make the next trip. The next two, probably."
Hargrove checks in daily with Belle and has been told he's "fine."
"We'll keep running him out there and letting him work," Hargrove said. "We've got to find out if it's going to be a `go' or a `no go.' The only way to do that is to give him the opportunity to play. It doesn't do any good to try to protect him through spring training and all of a sudden, second week of the season he can't go. We've got to find that out now. And I think Albert feels the same way."
They weren't separated at birth, but the similarity can be striking.
Orioles pitcher Rick Huisman, a non-roster invitee to camp, looks enough like Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer that he's even acquired the same nickname.
"I help out with a Division III baseball program in the off-season [Hope College in Michigan], because my best friend coaches there," Huisman said. "Once the Ravens were in the playoffs and Trent became so familiar to everybody, as soon as I walked into practice everyone started calling me `TD.' It got through the team pretty quick
"I've heard it a lot, actually, especially now that the Ravens won the Super Bowl. They've been in the news so much lately. It's one of those ongoing things. Even a few years ago, one of my buddies back home said, `You know who you look like? I was watching a game the other day. ... ' And it's really picked up the last few months."
After a recent workout at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Huisman walked past reporters and quipped: "I threw two touchdown passes today."
He'd like for the comparisons to continue - in Baltimore.
The Orioles signed Huisman as a minor-league free agent on Jan. 8. He's a long-shot to make the club, with short relief at Triple-A Rochester the greater possibility, but doesn't count himself out of the running.
"This is my seventh big-league camp," he said, "and I'm hoping and praying it's the best one."
Huisman was sifting through a few offers from other teams when the Orioles expressed interest shortly before Christmas. "Baltimore called basically out of nowhere," he said.
"It was an organization that I had heard a lot about and I'm excited to be here. No doubt about it. They only brought in a few non-roster guys and they decided they wanted me to be one of the select few. I was very satisfied with that."
He hasn't pitched in the majors since appearing in 22 games with the Kansas City Royals in 1996, going 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. He had gotten into seven games the previous year in his first exposure to the big leagues, five years after beginning his professional career as a third-round pick by San Francisco.
Huisman began the 1997 season on the disabled list after tearing a groin muscle during the spring. He's been trapped in the minors ever since.
"I basically wasted a year and a half trying to come back from that," he said. "The last two years, health-wise, everything's gone perfect. But unfortunately, sometimes you're not in the right place at the right time."
Maybe this will prove to be one of those times when he's in the right place.
"There's a question mark with the pitching staff," he said. "I just hope I can be one of those answers."