Injury to forearm slows rise of Maduro

O's put him on DL

unlikely to miss start

March 24, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Once appearing to be settled, the Orioles' rotation won't leave South Florida completely intact. A crack has developed at the end, though there's no hurry to fill it.

Fifth starter Calvin Maduro was placed on the disabled list yesterday with a strained muscle in his right forearm. The move is retroactive to Friday, making him eligible to be activated April 6.

Maduro couldn't make yesterday's scheduled start against the St. Louis Cardinals because of soreness in his upper forearm. Asked about the injury before the workout, Maduro said he expected to miss only one spring turn. But that was before having a lengthy discussion with manager Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley on one of the back fields.

"That's when they told me," he said.

The move frees up space on the 25-man roster and allows the Orioles to carry an extra position player and 11 pitchers. With an open date on April 2, Maduro wasn't needed until five days later against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards. Scott Erickson, the probable Opening Day starter, will pitch twice before the fifth starter takes his initial turn.

"This way, you've got more room to do things, and this protects him," said Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations. "It has nothing to do with whether he's third, fourth or fifth. The idea is to protect him from trying to do too much too soon. It's a long season. We want him to be ready for the long haul."

Thrift estimated that it should take 10 to 15 days for Maduro to fully recover.

"It's understandable because I wasn't going to start until the 7th anyway," Maduro said, "and it gives me more time to get it where it has to be. And I know for my next start I'll be ready, and the next start after that."

Maduro, who submerged the arm in a whirlpool Friday morning as part of his treatments, blames the discomfort on a swing he took during his previous start on March 16 against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.

Playing under National League rules with no designated hitter, Maduro batted twice before coming out of the game with five shutout innings intact. He flew out to center field in both plate appearances against 22-game winner Matt Morris, who had Maduro chasing a nasty curve on the swing that might have caused the injury.

"I knew he was going to throw me a curve because I threw him two changeups," Maduro said. "I guess it was paybacks. I was laughing as I fouled it off."

Maduro, who went 5-6 with a 4.23 ERA in 22 games last season, didn't notice the soreness until later that night. He did some long-tossing yesterday and will throw in the bullpen tomorrow. The Orioles plan to give him a start at the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla., before activating him.

"They told me if my arm was feeling this good two days ago, I would have made my start and kept pitching and gone up [north] with the team," he said.

By being skipped yesterday, Maduro would have made one more appearance before the Orioles concluded their exhibition schedule Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds in Louisville, Ky.

Though no official announcement has been made, Hargrove strongly hinted that Maduro would serve as the club's fifth starter after holding opponents to one run in 12 innings this spring. His only two walks came in his last outing.

"It's a precautionary measure. We want to make sure it isn't something he makes worse by trying to come back too soon," Hargrove said. "We decided to take the pressure off and DL him. This wasn't done because he's the fifth starter and we wouldn't need him until later in the month. This was done because of the forearm strain. It's something he's been battling since his last start."

Maduro went on the disabled list twice in 2000 with a sprained ligament in his elbow, ending his season on June 22. "That has nothing to do with this. They have no concern about the last time," he said.

"They just don't want me to be hurt and make the start and get it worse. They want to get it right for the season. I told them I understand what they mean by doing this but I wanted them to understand that just because it's a DL thing, I don't want them to think I'm not going to make it by the 7th. I know I'm going to be ready for that."

Thrift indicated that no decision has been made about filling Maduro's spot with a third catcher. Hargrove said the possibility still existed that three would go north, the same composition as last spring before Greg Myers was released in June.

The Orioles are trying to move Fernando Lunar, but more clubs are interested in Geronimo Gil, who has the best chance at unseating Brook Fordyce as the starter. Lunar is out of minor-league options and must clear waivers before being sent down.

Hargrove instead could retain two catchers and choose three players from a group consisting of infielders Mike Moriarty and Brian Roberts, outfielders Luis Garcia and Chad Allen, and infielder/outfielder Ryan McGuire. Earlier in camp, Hargrove had suggested keeping a pure utility infielder and extra outfielder, but he now finds room for another player.

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