Pain-free Ponson is hoping he can pitch in two weeks

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's await MRI evaluation of small tear in shoulder

Hentgen back in Aberdeen

Notebook

August 20, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Encouraged by the lack of pain in his right shoulder, Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson says he'll pitch again in two weeks rather than be shut down for the remainder of the season.

Ponson, on the disabled list with a slight tear in the labrum of his right shoulder, has been taking medication to reduce the inflammation in the tendon that runs from his right biceps muscle to the shoulder. Results of a magnetic resonance imaging test have been sent to orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in California, and the Orioles are waiting for him to speak with club physician Dr. Charles Silberstein.

In the meantime, Ponson has been exercising and long-tossing without discomfort. He intends to throw at least twice in the bullpen before returning to the Orioles' rotation.

"I want to make sure I'm 100 percent," he said, adding that an injury rehab assignment would be "pointless."

The labrum tear apparently has existed since the 2000 season, but Ponson no longer could pitch once the tendon became inflamed.

"Since I've been taking the anti-inflammatory drugs, there's no pain," he said. "I'll throw a simulated game in the bullpen and go from there."

Ponson has informed manager Mike Hargrove of his desire to pitch in two weeks. "I think it'll be September with him," Hargrove said, "which is two weeks."

His Aberdeen proving ground

Pat Hentgen will make his next injury rehab start tonight at short-season Aberdeen, where he pitched five days ago, and still hopes to rejoin the Orioles in September.

Hentgen was expected to appear at Single-A Frederick - the Keys even issued a news release yesterday - before a late change returned him to Aberdeen. He allowed eight runs (four earned) and 12 hits in five innings of Thursday's game at Ripken Stadium, walking none and striking out seven.

"It really doesn't make any difference where he pitches. The idea is for him to pitch," Hargrove said.

Hentgen, who had ligament-transplant surgery on Aug. 9, 2001, is 0-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 minor-league innings. He has also pitched with the Gulf Coast Orioles and Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.

Hale joins growing list

Scratched from Thursday's start because of a sore shoulder, minor-league pitcher Beau Hale was placed on the disabled list over the weekend and underwent an MRI here yesterday.

Silberstein examined Hale Friday at Camden Yards, and the former University of Texas standout had an arthrogram yesterday - where dye is injected in the shoulder to provide a clearer image on the MRI. Club officials are awaiting the results.

Hale, the 14th player taken in the 2000 draft, was 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA at Double-A Bowie, after going 8-8 with a 5.02 ERA at Single-A Frederick. He made 24 combined starts this season, compared to 17 last year, when he didn't pitch after Aug. 8 because of a sore shoulder.

The Orioles continue to watch their pitching prospects succumb to injuries. Left-handers Chris Smith and Richard Stahl, first-round selections in 2001 and 1999, respectively, were shut down earlier this season because of shoulder ailments. Left-hander Scott Rice, a supplemental pick in 1999 who was 1-7 at Aberdeen, will miss his next start after having an MRI on his sore arm.

Another left-hander, Eric Bedard, threw from 45 feet on Sunday as he attempts to rejoin the Baysox's rotation. Bedard stopped throwing last week because of pain in his elbow.

Meanwhile, Triple-A Rochester pitcher Josh Towers went on the disabled list yesterday with a sore elbow, and infielder Jose Leon took his place on the roster. Towers reinjured the elbow last week while swimming in a community pool. He's 0-8 with the Red Wings after going 0-3 with the Orioles.

Towers would have the worst record of any Red Wings pitcher to go winless in a season.

Thrift returns

Physical woes extend to the front office as well.

Orioles vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift was back in his office yesterday after taking a few days to recover from hernia surgery performed Wednesday in Easton. "I'm feeling fine," Thrift said.

Around the horn

The Red Wings, who have been affiliated with the Orioles since 1961, are expected to file for free agency today by submitting a letter to minor-league president Mike Moore. They also will send a letter to their season-ticket holders explaining the move. An agreement still could be reached with the Orioles, but Rochester officials are exploring other options. ... Chris Richard had a .357 career average against Tampa Bay with six homers and 17 RBIs before going 0-for-3 last night.

Sun staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.

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