Hendricks could return home this week

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

`100 percent recovery' projected for coach after mild stroke

Chen healing

Orioles

April 17, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks could return to Baltimore early this week after undergoing further tests in a St. Petersburg, Fla., hospital related to a mild stroke he suffered Thursday night.

Hendricks is working with a speech therapist and resting comfortably at St. Anthony's Hospital. The team hasn't determined when he'll be ready to resume his coaching duties.

"They're extremely optimistic on how far he can come back to being what he was," said Mike Flanagan, vice president of baseball operations. "They're projecting a potential 100 percent recovery."

Hendricks, 64, was dressing for the team flight out of St. Petersburg when he wandered into the trainers room and sat on a table. Head trainer Richie Bancells noticed that Hendricks' speech was slurred and recognized the signs of a stroke.

"I asked, `Are you OK?' and it was pretty apparent that he was not," Bancells said. "He complained about having some numbness on the left side of his face."

Knowing that time was precious, Bancells rushed Hendricks into a golf cart and transported him to a car belonging to one of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' clubhouse attendants. There's a three-hour window for a stroke victim to receive medication that enhances the healing process. The drive to the hospital took about seven minutes.

"Richie's rapid response to the situation greatly diminished the severity of the stroke. It's as simple as that," Flanagan said. "They're not sure what the cause of the stroke was. They're still going to do more tests with that. The schedule right now is he'll be coming back to Baltimore Monday or Tuesday."

Because the stroke has diminished Hendricks' memory, he's unable to recall how he felt before it occurred. "The best I can gather from talking to others, it was either as the game was ending or right at the end, people were starting to notice that something was going on," Bancells said.

"His spirits are great. There were times we were laughing about different things. And his speech was improving. He was speaking in complete sentences and we were joking, and his memory was coming back. It was very encouraging."

Hendricks has been in an Orioles uniform as a player or coach for a club-record 37 years.

"For all the old Orioles family, Elrod has been such a fixture here," Flanagan said. "He's been an important part of not only my baseball life, but my personal life."

In Hendricks' absence, the Orioles have summoned Triple-A Ottawa pitching coach Steve McCatty and assigned him to the bullpen.

"I'll be answering the phone out there," he said. "I don't think anybody can do Elrod's job."

McCatty welcomed the chance to coach in the majors, but not under these circumstances.

"You never want to come up in a situation like this," McCatty said. "He's a good friend. He's a good man. I just hope everything turns out all right."

Doc Watson, the Orioles' minor league pitching coordinator, will take over McCatty's duties at Ottawa.

Chen's finger healing

The gash on pitcher Bruce Chen's right index finger didn't require stitches or a tetanus shot, only a thicker bandage in case of more bleeding.

The left-hander said he received a tetanus shot in 2002 while pitching for the New York Mets and didn't need another one after the New York Yankees' Hideki Matsui stepped on his glove hand Friday night.

"It feels good," he said. "They just put extra protection on it today because I'm playing catch with [Erik] Bedard and they don't want it to open up again."

Chen, who pitched the Orioles' first complete game of the season in an 8-1 win, said the finger was "bleeding a lot," but assistant trainer Brian Ebel got it under control.

"He did a real good job," Chen said. "It was stinging for one inning and then it was fine."

The injury was caused by some confusion at first base between Chen and Jay Gibbons, who raced to cover the bag on Matsui's grounder. "He saw me coming and I saw him coming, so I stopped and he stopped," Chen said. "I was closer to the base, so I dove for it."

That's when Matsui's spikes dug into Chen's finger.

"If he had been safe," Chen said, "that would have hurt a lot more."

DuBose's next stop: Bowie

Left-hander Eric DuBose has been placed on Ottawa's inactive list after starting two games for the Lynx, and he'll begin pitching for Double-A Bowie later this week.

DuBose, who's already reported to the Baysox, couldn't obtain a work visa for Canada because of his arrest last month in Sarasota, Fla., for driving under the influence. Both of his starts for Ottawa came on the road. Neither one went as DuBose intended.

He allowed five earned runs (seven total) in four innings in a 9-0 loss to Louisville, and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 13-8 loss to Indianapolis.

ORIOLES

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