Richard wastes no time, or words, in return to club

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

DH homers on first pitch he sees in majors in '02, won't comment on injuries

August 01, 2002|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles decided to recall Chris Richard from his injury rehab assignment. And this time, he actually made it to their clubhouse.

Richard served as the designated hitter last night in his first start with the Orioles since last October, and he homered on the major-league pitch he's seen this season. He also doubled and had three RBIs.

He had batted .321 with six doubles, six home runs and 18 RBIs in 14 games at Triple-A Rochester. Including two games at Double-A Bowie and one at short-season Aberdeen, Richard batted .390 with seven homers and 22 RBIs.

The Orioles wanted Richard to join them in Boston last weekend, but he remained in Rochester after straining his right gluteus muscle during pre-game warm-ups. They settled for infielder Brian Roberts, who made his only start on Tuesday before returning to the Red Wings.

Asked about the injury, Richard said, "I don't have any comment about all that."

The challenge is finding a subject Richard will discuss. He declined to talk about his surgically repaired shoulder in Baltimore, and didn't want to provide any details of his rehab program yesterday, saying, "I don't want to get into all that stuff."

Considering he hadn't played a single inning in a major-league game in 2002 until last night, subject options were limited.

Unable to put much zip behind his throws, Richard did concede he probably would be restricted initially to playing first base rather than the outfield. "That would be a fair assessment," he said.

Richard wouldn't project when he could play in the outfield. "I can't be a fortuneteller," he said. "I'm not going to make any predictions."

Rather than assess the discomfort in his shoulder, which required surgery in November to reattach the capsule and clean some fraying in the rotator cuff, Richard excused himself and headed to the batting cage.

The roster move could have the greatest impact on Howie Clark, who was hitless in his last three games before last night. Rather than serve as the primary left-handed designated hitter, Clark might be used more as a pinch hitter and occasional replacement in left field for Marty Cordova.

In his first full major-league season in 2001, Richard batted .265 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs in 136 games. He went on the disabled list retroactive to June 20 with a bruised knee, returning to the lineup two weeks later.

Richard said he didn't mind being used as the DH, "as long as I'm in there hitting. Of course I'd like to be out there playing but I just have to give it time."

Early projections after the surgery had Richard rejoining the club by the All-Star break. "As much as you want to set a goal," he said, "the shoulder will tell you when it's ready."

Unless it chooses not to discuss injuries.

Decision coming

Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's new disciplinary czar, will likely have a decision today on potential penalties stemming from Sunday's benches-clearing brawl between the Orioles and Boston Red Sox.

Right fielder Gary Matthews and reliever Willis Roberts were both ejected from that game, and David Segui could also face a suspension or fine for taking part in an altercation while on the disabled list.

Maduro checks in

Unseen since his June 14 surgery, pitcher Calvin Maduro interrupted his rehab program in Sarasota, Fla., to visit teammates. He's been throwing for almost two weeks since a bone spur and chips were removed from his elbow, and he anticipates pitching in the minors later this month.

"Just by the way I'm throwing, I'm surprising myself," he said. "My elbow didn't bother me at all. All I have to do is get my shoulder in shape. I don't worry about my elbow anymore."

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