Unable to run the bases comfortably, Jeff Conine remained on the disabled list yesterday rather than rejoining the Orioles' lineup for last night's game against the Oakland Athletics.
Conine went on the disabled list June 15 with a strained right hamstring suffered while running out a triple in Philadelphia the previous night. The Orioles conducted an extended workout yesterday after having three days off during the All-Star break, and waited until Conine tested the leg before determining his status.
"He's still not ready," said manager Mike Hargrove. "It's more day-to-day probably now than anything. I don't anticipate Jeff being ready for another three or four days at least. But it may be better tomorrow. If it is, that'll be good."
Conine ran sprints at his Florida home during the break, but heavy rains prevented him from running the bases until yesterday. Hargrove gave him an encouraging pat on the shoulder as he returned to the clubhouse while the other players stretched in the outfield.
"He's still experiencing some discomfort," Hargrove said, "a lot less now than he has been, but it's still there. And we certainly don't want to bring him back too early and redo this thing."
Though the Orioles called up infielder Jose Leon from Triple-A Rochester as Conine's replacement, first baseman/outfielder Ryan McGuire could return to the minors when Conine is activated.
Leon made his ninth start at first base last night since joining the Orioles. He went 1-for-4 and is batting .273. Leon's 33 at-bats are 12 more than McGuire (.095) has accumulated since his contract was purchased on May 18. McGuire hasn't appeared in a game since making his last start on June 30.
The waiver deadline for making trades arrives July 31, and more deals were struck yesterday, with Montreal, Florida and Cincinnati swapping players. Hargrove endorsed a cautious approach from the Orioles, who don't figure to challenge for a playoff berth despite hovering around .500 in the first half.
Asked about the possibility of adding players, Hargrove said, "I think the possibility is there. I think there's going to be a lot more players being moved. If something comes along and makes sense for us and we can do it and keep the integrity of the team and organization intact, then I'd think we would probably do it. But having said that, we're not contenders now and to jump the gun too soon would be just as bad as sitting and not doing anything at all.
"I'm not saying now's not the time to do it. I'm just saying that we need to be careful, and when we do something, that it makes a lot of sense for us and not to just do something for the sake of doing it."
Needing another starting pitcher, St. Louis has approached the Orioles about Scott Erickson. And Los Angeles has expressed interest in reliever Buddy Groom, who turned 37 on Wednesday.
Break does Ponson good
The break has allowed Hargrove to hold back Sidney Ponson until Sunday's game against the Athletics - perhaps long enough to prevent another blister from surfacing.
Ponson has exited his past two starts, the most recent on Saturday, because of a blister on the padding of his right middle finger. He lasted only two innings of a June 30 game against Philadelphia, and gave up a four-run lead in Texas before leaving in the sixth inning.
"I looked at the blister today, and it looked a lot better," Hargrove said.
Setback for Richard
Chris Richard has been shut down through Sunday because of persistent pain in his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Richard, who has been restricted to designated hitter duties during his injury rehab assignment, had a magnetic resonance imaging this week, and a club spokesman said the Orioles' medical staff needs to review the result.
Taking the high road
Hargrove took the high road concerning Charlie Manuel's firing as Cleveland manager.
Hargrove sounded sympathetic regarding the news that third base coach Joel Skinner had replaced Manuel.
"You don't like to see anybody get fired. That's a person's livelihood," said Hargrove.