Expos' Batista adds injury to itchiness

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Ex-Orioles 3rd baseman hurts wrist after missing 12 days with chickenpox

Baseball

March 25, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

VIERA, Fla. - The chickenpox have cleared except for a few marks that Tony Batista reveals by rolling up his uniform sleeve, but his left wrist is wrapped in ice after being hit by a ground ball yesterday during batting practice.

As the last remaining days run off before teams head north to open the season, the former Orioles third baseman is wondering when his luck is going to change.

Quarantined in his hotel room for 12 days because of the pox, Batista finally was cleared to resume workouts Tuesday.

"One day I had a couple, then the next day a couple more," he said before the Montreal Expos' 3-2 victory over the Orioles at Space Coast Stadium. "I went to the doctor and found out."

Batista, who is hitting .200 with one homer in five games, should return to the Expos' lineup next week if the wrist doesn't flare up.

"It's a little sore," he said, "but I'm fine."

Who could blame him for being a little frustrated?

Batista, who hit .235 with 29 homers and 99 RBIs for the Orioles in 2003, settled on a one-year, $1 million contract with the Expos after earning $6.4 million last season. The Orioles had no interest in keeping him, and he returned to the Dominican Republic unsure where he would play.

"I signed a one-year deal, and I'll find out if I can get back to where I used to be - a three-year deal, four-year deal," he said. "The market's a little tough right now."

His final contribution to the Orioles was giving a convincing sales pitch to free-agent shortstop Miguel Tejada, who signed for $72 million over six years.

"I told him, if he liked to sign there, it's a good city with good people. Everybody treats you pretty good," Batista said.

"He asked me for No. 10 after he signed and I said, `Go ahead. I'm not there anymore.' But maybe next year I'll be back in Baltimore. Who knows? I hear they signed Melvin Mora for three years. I can play second."

Waiting for Daal news

The Orioles were waiting last night to receive the results of Omar Daal's magnetic resonance imaging test. They braced for the worst.

Daal's appointment wasn't until 3 p.m., but manager Lee Mazzilli sounded like he already knew what was coming.

Daal interrupted Tuesday's side session because of pain behind the shoulder. He missed 2 1/2 months last season with tendinitis in his left rotator cuff, and he indicated Tuesday that the latest discomfort was worse.

Asked if he was preparing himself to receive bad news yesterday, Mazzilli said, "I think you have to be that way.

"He was a little down in the dumps, and that's natural because you're competing for something, and toward the end of spring training something comes up like this. It's just bad timing for him."

Ramsay's return to mound

Mazzilli was the first person off the bench yesterday to shake hands with pitcher Rob Ramsay, who allowed a run in the sixth inning. The results weren't important.

What mattered was Ramsay appeared in his first game since Aug. 28, when he earned a win for Single-A Lake Elsinore. He underwent surgery in January 2002 to remove a brain tumor and still takes a chemotherapy pill each night.

The Orioles have been cautious with Ramsay, shutting him down after the first workout until they consulted with his doctors and learned more about his treatment. He had to build up arm strength before pitching.

Ramsay retired the first two batters before Andy Fox poked a two-strike pitch into right-center field for a double. Fox scored on a single by Luis Lopez.

"It makes you feel good that you could see the kid out on the mound," Mazzilli said. "It's a special feeling to see that. I think everyone pulls for him."

Ramsay had trouble locating his fastball and went mostly with his slider.

"It's always good to get out there," he said. "Granted, it's taken a little longer than I first anticipated, but it's a good building block for getting ready for the season."

Mulling the rotation

With only nine exhibition games left, Mazzilli said one spot in his rotation has been determined.

Sidney Ponson will start Opening Night, but Mazzilli isn't certain who will follow. Rodrigo Lopez is slotted second, with Eric DuBose third and Kurt Ainsworth fourth. But that order apparently is subject to change.

"I'm ... trying to get that down in the next day or so," Mazzilli said. "I've got four options that I'm throwing around."

With Daal injured, left-handers Matt Riley and Erik Bedard are vying for the fifth spot.

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