Ponson activated, to start against Texas

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He, Hentgen join rotation, replace Driskill, Erickson

September 02, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Orioles activated Sidney Ponson from the disabled list before last night's game, and he's expected to start Wednesday against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards, taking the rotation spot of rookie Travis Driskill.

Driskill was listed among the club's relievers yesterday. Manager Mike Hargrove said he could have used Ponson in relief, but only on a limited basis.

The Orioles continue to list Wednesday's starter as "undecided," but barring a late switch, Ponson will take the ball.

Ponson hasn't pitched since Aug. 6, when he limited the Minnesota Twins to two runs over 6 2/3 innings while improving his record to 6-5. A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder, but most of his discomfort came from an inflamed tendon that ran from his biceps to the shoulder.

John Stephens will pitch tomorrow's series opener, and Jason Johnson will start Thursday. Scott Erickson's turn comes up Friday, when the Orioles begin a three-game series against the Anaheim Angels at Camden Yards, but he's not likely to pitch.

Instead, the Orioles could use yesterday's starter, Rodrigo Lopez, in Erickson's spot and call upon Pat Hentgen on Saturday. Hentgen, attempting to return from last year's ligament-transplant surgery on his right elbow, will make his final rehab start tonight at Single-A Frederick.

Hentgen was scheduled to pitch yesterday in Aberdeen, but the Orioles changed his assignment because of the weekend rain. They didn't want Hentgen to aggravate a minor groin injury he suffered earlier.

Struggling Erickson to sit

No official announcement has been made concerning Erickson's status, but he expects to leave the rotation while the Orioles evaluate Hentgen, who has a club option for 2003 remaining on his contract.

Erickson has surrendered at least six runs in five of his last seven starts. Two years removed from ligament-transplant surgery, he's sporting a 12.17 ERA in his past eight starts, with 75 runners allowed in 30 1/3 innings.

"If he had been healthy the entire time, I would be [surprised] because it's so against his track record," Hargrove said. "But you look where he's come from. Eighteen months ago, he wasn't pitching at all. It takes some people longer to get back than others. His arm is healthy, his velocity is good."

Pushed back in the rotation before making Saturday's start, Erickson retired only four of the 12 batters he faced. He allowed six runs, all coming in the second inning, when the Angels used seven straight hits to knock him out of the game and inflate his ERA to 5.55.

"I think they'll take a look at the other guys and give me a little rest," said Erickson (5-12), who has one victory since July 16. "I'm not too concerned with what my role is. Obviously I'm not getting people out, and the last thing I want to do is keep putting my teammates in this position."

By lasting only 1 1/3 innings, Erickson turned in the second-shortest outing of his career. He hung a 3-2 slider to Bengie Molina, whose three-run homer put him behind. A bases-loaded double by Orlando Palmeiro gave Anaheim a 6-0 lead and ended Erickson's night after 47 pitches.

"I'm not going to blame not pitching very much the last two years as having anything to do with it," he said. "The ball's finding the bat. I have no explanations. I felt great. I can't blame it on anything. I got some pitches up and they got hit. It's plain and simple.

"I'm not going to panic. I know I can get people out."

Towers comes up empty

The last opportunity for Josh Towers to win a game this season passed without the coveted decision.

Activated from Triple-A Rochester's disabled list, Towers lost the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against Ottawa, 4-0. The Red Wings' season ends tomorrow, and Towers is assured of finishing 0-9 and having the worst winless record in club history.

Freed of the elbow pain that returned him to the disabled list, Towers gave up two runs in the third inning on an error by Howie Clark and two more in the fifth on a home run.

Towers, who started the season in the Orioles' rotation, was 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA in five appearances with the Orioles.

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