Weary Hendricks glad to finally travel home

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Angelos charters plane

coach is `in great spirits'

Notebook

April 21, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Both tired and anxious, Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, who had been in a Florida hospital since suffering a mild stroke last Thursday, returned to Baltimore yesterday afternoon on a plane chartered by team owner Peter G. Angelos.

Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan, a longtime teammate and friend of Hendricks, was on the plane that picked up the 64-year-old coach and his wife, Merle, and son Ryan. He said that Hendricks, who was rushed to St. Anthony's Hospital by Richie Bancells after the Orioles head trainer detected signs of a stroke, walked on and off the plane under his own power and "seemed to be his old self."

"He was in great spirits," Flanagan said. "His speech was terrific. He was a little tired from the ordeal. I think there are some follow-ups [doctors] are going to do here [today and tomorrow], but his spirits are great. We talked baseball all the way down on the flight. It was an uplifting journey for me."

Flanagan said that the club is not sure when Hendricks, whose duties have been filled by Triple-A Ottawa pitching coach Steve McCatty, will return, nor is that the Orioles' concern. Hendricks is battling pneumonia and Flanagan said he was eager "to get home and get in his own bed."

"We're really trying to get him back up to speed," Flanagan said. "We should know more as his tests are re-evaluated. We don't know the cause. We would certainly like to know that and we'll take it from there. I am just relieved and pleased that I finally saw him today."

Ponson's status undecided

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said the club will likely learn today whether pitcher Sidney Ponson will be granted a temporary "minister's permit" and be allowed into Toronto for the team's three-game series with the Blue Jays, starting tomorrow.

Ponson's January arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for driving under the influence has made it difficult for the right-hander, who is scheduled to start on Sunday, to obtain a permit to get into Canada.

"We're still in the process," Beattie said. "We sent all the documentation and we should ... hear by [today]. What [the Department of Immigration] is requesting is a pretty extensive list of things to put together."

Beattie said the Orioles are exploring alternatives, including bringing somebody up from the minors, if Ponson is unable to make the start. Another option could be giving last night's starter, Bruce Chen, the start on three days' rest, while Ponson would make Chen's scheduled start on Monday in Boston.

"I have a Plan B," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "That's all I can tell you."

Beattie also said that the Orioles are trying to get a minister's permit for pitcher Eric DuBose so that he can play full-time at Triple-A Ottawa, instead of making some starts in Double-A Bowie. DuBose was arrested for driving under the influence during spring training.

Lopez wears out Sox

Orioles right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (2-0), who opposes Boston's Matt Clement tonight, is 8-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 career outings against the Red Sox. He has more wins against Boston than over any other team.

However, he insists there is no secret to his Sox success, which included a 3-1 mark and a 1.78 ERA last season against the World Series champs.

"Every team is different, but surely, pitching to the Yankees and the Red Sox, they have some of the best players in the game," Lopez said. "That leads to me being focused during the game. Then, I have less chances of making mistakes. I just try to go with my plan. We've seen the Yankees and Boston so many times, I feel confidence to pitch against them."

Around the horn

Boston's David Wells came within three outs of his first shutout in 63 starts since blanking Minnesota for the Yankees on April 10, 2003. Wells was denied his first complete game since Sept. 17, 2003, against the Orioles. ... The Red Sox are the only team in the majors that hasn't given up a first-inning run. ... Brian Roberts yesterday helped host an assembly at Highlandtown Middle School, where Sharpie donated $10,000 in funds and supplies. ... The Orioles will give out duffel bags to the first 20,000 fans 18 and older tonight.

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