Cautious O's don't push Segui

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He'll miss Cardinals with strained hamstring

shoulder irks Nussbeck

March 02, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Though insisting that he could play if necessary, Orioles first baseman David Segui won't travel to Jupiter, Fla., for today's exhibition opener against the St. Louis Cardinals as a precautionary measure to protect his strained right hamstring.

Segui, who suffered the injury during a relay drill on Wednesday, noted improvement in the leg. "It's not bad at all," he said. "I could play. I just worry if I push off on it too hard."

Chris Richard, who's been nursing a strained right quadriceps muscle, will start at first in Segui's place. Jose Leon, a minor-league third baseman who was going to remain in Fort Lauderdale, has been told to make the trip.

Segui is expected to play in tomorrow's home opener against the Minnesota Twins.

"David's fine," said manager Mike Hargrove, "but we're going to hold him out. I talked to him this morning, and he said he felt that today and tomorrow would be good for him.

"There's no point in pushing it. I'd rather lose three or four days now than lose two weeks in the middle of April or the end of March."

Albert Belle also will stay behind, but he's expected to start in right field tomorrow and make the next two trips, to Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie. Belle made another concession to his hip condition yesterday by riding a stationary bike while the Orioles did their final drill - with players required to get 27 straight outs. Any mistake meant starting over, which happened numerous times before Hargrove sped up the proceedings.

Walking to the middle of the infield, Hargrove shouted out the "game" situation. Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, a one-run lead in Game 7 of the World Series. Ryan Kohlmeier induced a ground ball to Richard, who stepped on the bag for the final out.

Just one problem: Kohlmeier forgot to break toward first, a mental lapse that Hargrove pointed out to his young closer while allowing the workout to conclude without another restart.

Nussbeck: `So frustrating'

Orioles pitcher Mark Nussbeck continues to do everything in spring training except what he came here for - to throw baseballs, impress the coaching staff, and perhaps earn a spot at the end of the rotation.

Nussbeck may not step on a mound again for at least two more weeks because of recurring tendinitis in his right shoulder. He continues to receive ice and heat treatments, take anti-inflammatory drugs and perform cuff exercises. Nothing can be prescribed for his growing impatience and disappointment.

"It's so frustrating," said Nuss- beck, 26, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29. "They traded for me last year, and when I come over here, I have the first injury of my career. I've never had anything wrong with me in my life. I want to help the team out. I know I can. But I can't do anything when I can't throw."

Nussbeck played catch a few days ago, before the club decided to shut him down when the discomfort in his shoulder wouldn't subside. It's been a week since he threw off a mound.

"It's feeling fine," he said. "I guess they're just taking it easy with me. I'll do whatever they want me to do. They don't want anything to resurface."

Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, has been critical of Nussbeck for not following the club's prescribed off-season workout plan.

"I didn't hear anything about that," Nussbeck said. "I've been doing the same thing for the past three years, and it's gotten me in shape. I've come into spring training in great shape every year. This year, I couldn't throw during the winter, so I wasn't really ready to throw because of the injury. But I haven't changed anything I've ever done. If something's wrong, it's going to be wrong, no matter what you do. I feel like I'm one of the hardest workers in the game. I pride myself on that."

Nussbeck was 9-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 21 starts at Triple-A Memphis when the Cardinals sent him and Richard to the Orioles for reliever Mike Timlin. He had a perfect game through eight innings against Colorado Springs on May 15 before settling for a two-hitter. He also limited Oklahoma to two hits through nine scoreless innings on May 25 without receiving the decision. Nussbeck won his first five decisions, with a 1.21 ERA, and ranked second in the Pacific Coast League with a 2.36 ERA.

The Orioles still haven't seen evidence of it.

Nussbeck made only four starts with Triple-A Rochester, allowing eight earned runs and 21 hits in 18 2/3 innings. All eight runs came in his first two outings before being placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in the shoulder.

Attempts to throw in Baltimore two months ago brought the same discomfort, and Nussbeck alerted the training staff.

"The Orioles haven't gotten to see the real me at all. I pitched 18 innings at Rochester, but they weren't pain-free innings. I pitched on sheer adrenalin. This was a big opportunity for me. St. Louis had a whole line of guys pitching in the big leagues. They sent me here, and I had a big opportunity to help the team.

"Hopefully, they'll get to see me soon."

Sweet 16?

Pat Hentgen's arrival with the Orioles has meant a number change for Jason Johnson, who switched to 16 while passing along 41 to his new teammate.

No Oriole has worn that number since Scott McGregor, who last pitched for them in 1988. Johnson had wanted it earlier but never felt worthy. "That's a big name to live up to," he said.

Johnson, who lost 10 of his 11 decisions with the Orioles last season, didn't ask Hentgen for anything in return.

"You saw the year I had," he said. "I'd gladly give up that number."

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