Conine takes walk - to first and back


Streaking vet is red-faced by thinking 3 balls were 4

foul hits Johnson in dugout

May 29, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Jeff Conine extended his hitting streak to 12 games yesterday, the longest by an Oriole this season, when he led off the seventh inning with a sharp single into left field. This time, he was correct in going to first base.

In that regard, Conine was 1-for-2.

In the second inning, he lost track of the count and headed to first after taking a pitch out of the strike zone. He reached the bag, applause still filtering out of the stands, before realizing the count was 3-and-2.

The next batter, David Segui, already had strolled to the plate when Conine figured out his mistake. The bat boy met him along the line, with lumber in hand, as Conine walked to the batter's box.

Compounding his embarrassment, Conine took a called third strike after fouling off three pitches.

"I knew it was 3-and-2," third base coach Tom Trebelhorn said. "I said, `Hey, hey,' then figured, `Well, maybe we'll get a three-ball walk.' They want to speed up the games. That's a good way to do it - three-ball walks and two-strike strikeouts."

Conine scored the tying run in the seventh after reaching on the single. He's batting .447 (21-for-47) during the streak, with 14 RBIs.

J. Johnson gets a scare

With every starter getting an extra day's rest after Saturday's postponement, Jason Johnson's right arm had more time to recover from the 114 pitches he threw in Thursday's 6-4 win over Anaheim.

The Orioles were more interested in his left hand.

Sitting in the dugout during Friday's game, Johnson was hit in the hand by a foul ball from Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Though Johnson insisted he wasn't hurt, X-rays were taken as a precaution that came back negative.

Johnson had just returned from the clubhouse carrying a cup of soda. As he began to sit, he heard someone yell, "Look out."

But by the time Johnson lifted his head, it was too late.

"My hand was fine," he said, "but I had Coke all over me."

McElroy finally called

Chuck McElroy's photo won't need to appear on any milk cartons. He's no longer missing.

The veteran left-hander entered yesterday's game in the eighth inning and allowed two inherited runners to score - both charged to rookie Chad Paronto, who took the loss. McElroy hadn't pitched since May 17, and was making only his third appearance in more than three weeks.

The first batter he faced, Frank Catalanotto, hit a bouncer up the middle that McElroy deflected with his bare hand before scrambling behind the mound to make the out. Trainer Richie Bancells came out, and McElroy threw a few warm-up pitches before determining he could continue.

"I wanted to get an out," he said. "I didn't want [the inning] to be any longer than it was."

Bancells already had checked on Segui earlier in the inning after Rodriguez inadvertently kicked him in the right calf while running to first base. Segui had an ice pack on his leg after the game.

O's open-minded for draft

As he's done in the past, scouting director Tony DeMacio said he won't focus on a specific player or position when baseball's amateur draft unfolds next Tuesday and the Orioles hold the seventh, 19th and 31st picks.

When Beau Hale was available with the 14th selection last season, DeMacio leaped at the chance to take the University of Texas pitcher. The same was true of Clemson pitcher Mike Paradis, Newton (Ga.) High School left-hander Richard Stahl, Ball State outfielder Larry Bigbie and Providence outfielder Keith Reed in 1999. The Orioles had seven of the first 50 picks that year, and DeMacio chose the best available talent each time.

"There's no particular area," DeMacio said. "We're going to take the best player available. If it's a pitcher, it's a pitcher. If it's a [position] player, we'll take a player. We're not targeting anybody or any particular position."

Because the Orioles have concentrated so heavily on pitching the past few years, becoming enamored with power arms, they might be more inclined this summer to add position players. But this draft is deep in right-handed pitching.

Like most clubs, the Orioles are intrigued with two local products: Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira and Mount St. Joseph pitcher Gavin Floyd, both from Severna Park.

Teixeira most likely will be gone by the seventh pick, perhaps going as early as No. 2 to the Chicago Cubs. Floyd also is expected to be taken before the Orioles make their first selection.

Among the early possibilities for the Orioles are Joe Mauer, a left-handed-hitting catcher from Cretin-Derham Hill (Minn.) High, right-hander Mike Jones from Thunderbird (Ark.) High and first baseman Casey Kotchman of Seminole (Fla.) High.

The Orioles acquired the 19th pick from the New York Yankees, who signed Type-A free agent Mike Mussina over the winter. They also received the 31st selection as compensation. The Orioles forfeited their second-round pick to the Cleveland Indians after signing Segui.

Hentgen wild about Ankiel

Though pitcher Pat Hentgen has his own problems, with elbow tendinitis keeping him on the disabled list, he hasn't forgotten a former teammate who's going through another kind of adversity.

St. Louis left-hander Rick Ankiel still hasn't corrected the control problems that surfaced during last year's playoffs. If anything, they've gotten worse. Optioned to Triple-A Memphis on May 11, he's walked 17 and thrown 12 wild pitches in 4 1/3 innings.

"I feel sorry for him. He's going through some tough times mentally," said Hentgen, who went 15-12 with the Cardinals last season before signing with the Orioles. "I think he's strong enough to overcome it, but it could take some time. ... He's still so young [21]. I think he'll get through it and be a good pitcher for a long time."

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