Towers hits phone, hangs up on season

Tantrum gets rookie broken finger, scolding

O's add option at third


September 22, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

A rookie season that included eight victories and an award has ended prematurely for Orioles pitcher Josh Towers because of a misplaced punch.

Towers broke the ring finger on his right hand Thursday night after taking a swing at a dugout phone in Toronto. Frustrated over another poor performance, which left him winless since Aug. 17, Towers said his finger apparently caught in the webbing of his glove, which he held in his pitching hand.

"I just got a little upset after coming out of the game," said Towers, who allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, but was spared a loss when the Orioles rallied. "I never hit anything solid with my finger."

Towers, who finished 8-10 with a 4.49 ERA, wore a splint while retrieving balls in the outfield during batting practice. With 16 games remaining, there's no chance he'll return to the mound this season.

"I'm not happy with the way the season went," said Towers, who was named the American League's Rookie of the Month for June. "I had an opportunity to turn things around, but now I won't be able to make my last three starts. It was unfortunate and stupid, but I can't do anything about it now."

Manager Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley met with Towers for about 20 minutes after the game and scolded him for losing control of his emotions, an act that left another hole in the rotation. John Bale and Jose Mercedes are possible replacements for Towers.

"He was very disappointed with me," Towers said. "That's understandable. It was childish. If you're going to hit something, don't do it with your right hand."

Said Hargrove: "I don't think Josh is unclear on how we feel. Everybody has to learn to channel their anger in more positive ways than that."

Sore elbow idles Fordyce

Declining an examination on his left elbow, Brook Fordyce said he could catch if needed after being hit during Thursday's game, but most likely will "give myself a day or two" before attempting to play.

Fordyce was nailed by a fastball from Toronto reliever Pasqual Coco and left for a pinch runner. The swelling had gone down enough that Fordyce said X-rays weren't necessary. He was wearing a wrap on the elbow last night.

"There's a little pain and stiffness in it," he said. "I tried to swing and it hurt, but I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it is right now. He got me pretty good, enough to keep me up all night. But I was hoping that the way it felt today, it would be that much better tomorrow. I didn't think I'd be able to move it today."

Fordyce iced the elbow numerous times yesterday and had ultra-sound treatments. He knew after hitting off a machine that it wouldn't be wise to campaign for a place in the lineup. "I got the good part of the bat on the ball and it hurt," he said.

Rookie Geronimo Gil made his fourth major-league start behind the plate.

Blake another option at 3rd

The Orioles claimed third baseman Casey Blake off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, and he's expected to be in uniform today. By next spring, he could be challenging Tony Batista for the job of Cal Ripken's replacement.

Blake, 28, batted .318 (7-for-22) with a double and two RBIs in 13 games with the Twins this season, from June 7 to July 21. He hit .309 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs in 94 games at Triple-A Edmonton.

In parts of three seasons with Toronto and Minnesota, Blake has batted .260 (20-for-77) with one homer and four RBIs in 34 games.

The Orioles designated pitcher Juan Figueroa for assignment to make room for Blake on the 40-man roster. Figueroa, part of the four-player package acquired from the Chicago White Sox last summer for Charles Johnson and Harold Baines, was 3-10 with a 4.89 ERA in 18 games at Double-A Bowie, and 5-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven games at Single-A Frederick.

That's the way it is

A Coca-Cola television commercial featuring Cal Ripken and his 11-year-old daughter, Rachel, will debut today on the scoreboard at Camden Yards.

The commercial, the first national ad the beverage maker had produced with an athlete since Michael Jordan, features Ripken at an empty Camden Yards reminiscing about his career.

"You will see it a lot between now and November," said Mart Martin, director of public relations and media for Coke's North American operations.

Around the horn

Dave Schmidt accepted the position of roving pitching coordinator. He had served as the organization's Florida pitching coordinator. Schmidt replaces Bo McLaughlin, who was dismissed. ... Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams is day-to-day after being hit on the back of the helmet by Chicago's Kip Wells in the first inning of Thursday's game. Gerald Williams replaced him last night.

Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.

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