No rush to see Richard's hit show


Outfielder is batting .367 in rehab stint, but O's stay patient

Hentgen gains


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

As the Orioles wait for three of their veteran cogs to return to the lineup, they also take notice of Chris Richard's offensive numbers at Triple-A Rochester.

Richard carried a .367 average into last night's game in Toledo while continuing his injury rehabilitation assignment. He was 11-for-30 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in eight games, but the Orioles don't want to rush him back to the majors, even with Jeff Conine, David Segui and Mike Bordick on the disabled list.

Richard already experienced one setback, when soreness in his surgically repaired left shoulder necessitated a magnetic resonance imaging test and brief shutdown. The results didn't reveal any further damage or changes in the shoulder, and Richard was transferred from Single-A Aberdeen to Rochester.

Asked whether the Orioles are nearing a decision on Richard, manager Mike Hargrove cited the 20-day limit on a rehab assignment as reason for the club to maintain patience. The assignment started over after Richard left Aberdeen, where he appeared in one game. He also played two games with Double-A Bowie.

"We're not at any point where we're having to make a decision. I think we'll let it play its way out," Hargrove said. "He's still rehabbing his arm as far as throwing is concerned. I don't think any of us have had any concerns, especially not him, about swinging the bat. We have 20 days once that rehab starts to make a decision whether to put him back on the disabled list or bring him to the club."

Still unable to play in the outfield, Richard could return to the Orioles as a designated hitter. "We'll just have to look and see where the club's at whenever he's ready to come off [the DL]," Hargrove said.

Meanwhile, pitcher Pat Hentgen continues to make rapid progress in his recovery from ligament-transplant surgery in August. He'll soon pitch a four-inning "game" at the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla.

"He's throwing the ball very well," Hargrove said. "He's got a good curveball, and his velocity is 84 to 86, so that's starting to climb. He's probably a little bit ahead of schedule."

During spring training, Hentgen was gearing for an August return. "I think that might be a little too soon, but we'll see," Hargrove said.

Makeup set for Aug. 24

Last night's postponed game will be made up as part of an Aug. 24 day-night doubleheader, with starting times at 1:35 and 7:05 p.m.

Tickets dated for Aug. 24 should be used for the second game. Fans with tickets from last night unable to attend the first game Aug. 24 may exchange their tickets for any Monday-through-Thursday home game, subject to availability.

Fans living outside a 75-mile radius of Camden Yards who cannot attend the afternoon makeup game may request a refund.

The rainout was the fourth this season for the Orioles, their second at home.

Man on the move

Howie Clark was scheduled to make his eighth start before the rains came, a stretch of games long enough to keep him moving around the batting order.

Clark was elevated to second behind leadoff hitter Melvin Mora. He has also batted first, fifth and seventh.

His opportunity to hit fifth came after Jay Gibbons was scratched from Saturday's lineup with numbness in the last two fingers of his right hand.

"We had moved him to the seventh hole to give us some people who can put the ball in play and maybe drive some runs in. I just decided to try something different today," Hargrove said.

Hairston a catcher?

Compared at times to Roberto Alomar for his acrobatic plays at second base, Jerry Hairston might have been more closely associated with Sandy Alomar if not for the advice of his father.

If Hargrove had needed an emergency catcher during Saturday's 14-inning marathon, Hairston would have gotten the call. An odd-sounding choice on the surface, Hairston actually makes pretty good sense.

Though Hairston hasn't worn catcher's gear as a professional, he played the position until his junior year in high school, and again in the Cape Cod League.

"When you're a kid," he said, "you play everywhere."

His father, Jerry Sr., who played 14 seasons in the majors, advised Hairston to move to the middle infield. Hairston began his professional career as a shortstop before sliding over to second base.

Hairston still beams over his "claim to fame" in the Cape, when he twice threw out the league's fastest runner, Jermaine Clark, who began this season at Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle's organization.

For now, Hairston must settle for warming up pitchers between innings, which he has done a few times this year.

"It would be fun to catch for an inning or two," he said, "but if it's for a long time we're in trouble."

Rain bails out short Jays

Toronto closer Kelvim Escobar, who picked up his 19th save on Monday, left the team yesterday to attend his grandmother's funeral and won't return until after the series concludes today.

The Blue Jays also would have been short-handed on their bench last night.

Left fielder Shannon Stewart was scratched from the lineup last night after having his left hand spiked on Sunday. He found it difficult to swing the bat on Monday while wearing a pad.

And second baseman Dave Berg wasn't available after leaving Monday's game with tightness in his left hamstring.

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