Kinkade to undergo surgery on ailing wrist

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Trip to 60-day DL denies him spot in Ripken finale

Mills' career may be over

October 07, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Placed on the 60-day disabled list last week because of a wrist injury, Orioles utility player Mike Kinkade will undergo surgery tomorrow in Baltimore. It seems the appropriate way to end a season that often cut deeply.

Kinkade jammed the wrist while making an awkward slide into third base during an Aug. 23 game at Tampa Bay. Hand specialist Dr. Peter Innis will perform the surgery to repair a tear "in the cushion between the wrist and the bone," Kinkade said.

The Orioles removed Kinkade from the active roster on Wednesday after trading for Tim Raines Sr. The timing, with Cal Ripken playing his final game last night, couldn't have been any worse. Kinkade's name didn't appear on the historic lineup card.

Disappointment has come in many forms for Kinkade, who missed two weeks earlier in the season with a thumb injury. He briefly was considered by the organization as a possible replacement for Ripken, but as his playing time increased at the expense of Ripken, his production plummeted. An opportunity was lost.

No matter how frustrating the season became for Kinkade, there were moments he could savor. Most of them were spent with Ripken, taking ground balls at third base "pretty much every day."

"That's something that I'll be able to tell my grandkids about," Kinkade said.

End of Mills' road?

More than a month passed between appearances for Orioles reliever Alan Mills. His scoreless ninth inning in Game 1 of Friday's doubleheader signaled a return. It also might have marked the end of his career.

Unable to pitch in the majors until July 13 after shoulder surgery the previous September, Mills isn't certain if the Orioles will attempt to re-sign him during the winter. He's not even sure if he'll try to catch on with another club.

"I really don't know what's going to happen," said Mills, who turns 35 on Oct. 18. "I'm just going to enjoy Cal's last day and have a lot of fun doing so. I'm not going to be thinking about it too much."

Fast times with Conine

Inquire about Jeff Conine's sudden base-stealing prowess, and he points to the words spread across his chest. They promote Cris Carter's FAST program, run by the Minnesota Vikings receiver, which has given Conine a quicker first step and more daring on the base paths.

Conine finished the season with 12 steals, only three fewer than his career total coming into the season. He broke into the majors in 1990. He'll never break any land-speed records, but that's not the point of Carter's camp.

"Obviously, flat-out I'm not that fast," Conine said, "but it's definitely helped my explosion off the line. And Grover [manager Mike Hargrove] gives me a chance to run. He's got confidence in me to get a good jump."

Conine, 35, has attended the past two camps in Boca Raton, Fla., spending 12 weeks there after the 1999 season. Each session lasted about 90 minutes. Among the participants was Ravens running back Jamal Lewis.

"It trains the fast-twitch muscle fibers to fire," Conine said. "It's a very intense program. It pushes you a little farther than you can push yourself."

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