O's Hentgen cuts short side throwing session


Shoulder remains tight, but he hopes to go Sunday

McElroy waits his turn

May 24, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

When Orioles manager Mike Hargrove rated his concern over Pat Hentgen's sore right shoulder on a scale of one to 10, he gave it a three. That was before talking to Hentgen and pitching coach Mark Wiley, who informed him that the veteran pitcher cut short Tuesday's bullpen session because of continued tightness.

Now, Hargrove rates it "probably a four." Still not enough to lose sleep over, but a little harder to dismiss.

"We shut him down early because his arm's still bothering him a little bit, but it was better than it had been," Hargrove said.

The manager said there is a "60-40" chance Hentgen will make his scheduled start Sunday against Texas, his first appearance since May 16. He's supposed to throw on the side today, "and we'll know a little more," Hargrove said.

Hentgen was more optimistic. "I don't see any problem with Sunday," he said.

Hargrove spoke yesterday with Hentgen and trainer Richie Bancells. "He and Richie both said it was better [Tuesday] than it had been two days before, but he still felt it a little bit."

If the club chooses to put Hentgen on the disabled list, he'd be eligible to return June 1 when the Orioles are in Oakland. The date would be his next scheduled turn, five days after Sunday's game.

If the Orioles needed a replacement at Triple-A Rochester, they could give Josh Towers his first major-league start. Towers pitched on Tuesday and would be in line to take Hentgen's turn on Sunday. He made four relief appearances with the Orioles, going 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 8 2/3 innings, but projects as a starter.

Left-hander Chuck McElroy would be an in-house candidate. He made five starts before returning to the bullpen.

McElroy bypassed again

With Willis Roberts struggling through five innings yesterday, McElroy rose from his seat in the third and began to throw. He was ready long before Roberts headed for the showers, but his opportunity never came.

Hargrove used three relievers. McElroy wasn't among them.

McElroy, who says he's healthy, has been used only twice since his last start on May 3. He tossed four scoreless innings on May 11, though he allowed two inherited runners to score in a 14-5 loss in New York. He wasn't charged with a run in 1 1/3 innings of a 7-5 loss to Detroit on May 17.

"There just hasn't been an opportunity. He's our one long guy," Hargrove said before the game.

"Traditionally, you hope you don't use a long guy. That doesn't mean we won't use Mac in short stints. But he is our long guy and you have to protect that asset."

Proud papa

Mike Kinkade rejoined the club yesterday without missing a game because of Tuesday's rainout. He returned to the Orioles a father for the second time.

His wife, Michelle, gave birth to Konner Lynn at 6:32 p.m. Tuesday at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Konner, the couple's second son, weighed 8 pounds.

Kinkade stopped by the hospital yesterday morning on his way to Camden Yards and said Michelle and Konner were resting comfortably. They'll come home this weekend.

"I only got to see them for about 20 minutes," he said while dressing after the game. "I'm heading over there right now."

Kinkade pinch-hit for Ripken in the eighth inning and drew a walk. He stayed in the game at third base.

Crowds and optimism

Attendance at Camden Yards is down by more than 130,000 fans from last year, which hardly seems noticeable to catcher Brook Fordyce. He didn't join the Orioles until late July, after being traded by the Chicago White Sox, whose crowds always have been dwarfed by the turnouts in Baltimore.

"I wasn't here when it was sold out all the time, but it's still a lot better crowd than I'm used to, even when we were in first place in Chicago last year. We were in first place drawing 22,000," he said.

"I appreciate the fans who come out. Those who don't, maybe they don't understand that we're playing pretty good baseball out there. Or maybe the Ravens took all their money. But they should come out and enjoy the game."

Despite the growing number of empty seats at Camden Yards, the Orioles are quick to point out they've outdrawn the defending NL champion New York Mets and seven teams either in first place or within three games of the division lead: Minnesota, Toronto, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs.

Ranked last among every team in the majors by some national publications, the Orioles began yesterday 20-24 and 5 1/2 games behind first-place Boston.

Said Hargrove: "I don't think anyone gave us a chance in the world of contending or being anywhere near .500. The ultimate goal is getting to the World Series and winning the thing. But right now, .500 is a goal. After you get to .500, then five games over .500 will be a goal. And when you get to that, then you can build on it."

Around the horn

Left-hander John Bale pitched for the first time on Tuesday since being optioned to Triple-A Rochester on April 24. He gave up two hits in one inning of relief. Bale had been sidelined with tendinitis in his left elbow, a condition that flared up during his last appearance with the Orioles three days before his demotion. ... Jeff Conine extended his hitting streak to eight games with a run-scoring single in the first inning. He also had a two-run double, infield hit and walk. Conine's batting .455 (15-for-33) with 13 RBIs during the streak. ... The 11 runs the Orioles scored off left-hander Scott Schoeneweis were the most allowed by an Angels starter in one game. The previous record was 10, most recently by Ken Hill on April 19, 2000.

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