Worthington expected to get at-bats in minors


The Orioles have postponed a decision on Craig Worthington for at least a few more days, but a rehabilitation assignment for the third baseman looks almost certain.

"I had Worthy in here [his office] and talked to him for about an hour this afternoon," Orioles manager John Oates said. "He's 95 percent, but the way we've been going I can't take a chance sending him out there and get fried by having that hamstring go out on him again."

The decision to promote Leo Gomez, who had a triple and single and figured in three runs during last night's 6-4 win over Toronto, was a relatively easy one as it turned out. "I need a guy who is as hot as fire," said Oates.

"Doug Melvin [player personnel director] and Greg Biagini [Rochester manager] said he was swinging the bat better than anybody in the organization, so we had to get him in here.

"I told Worthy that the way the club is right now there's no way I can have two third basemen," said Oates. "He had some questions about what the organization thinks about him. He's not happy about it, but he understands."

Oates never got to the point of telling Worthington he would be asked to take a rehabilitation assignment, but left little doubt he felt that would be in everyone's best interest. "He has to sign a consent form," said Oates, "but what's he going to do? It can't hurt him to get some at-bats and a lot of pretty good players have gone out on rehabilitation assignments."

The irony of this situation is that when Worthington got hurt two weeks ago Gomez was not hitting enough to warrant his recall from Rochester. Now that Worthington is almost ready to return it appears that Gomez will be swinging at a steady diet of big-league pitching.

* MEDICAL REPORT: The Orioles lost another player yesterday when first baseman Randy Milligan suffered a sprained left thumb while diving for a base hit by Rance Mulliniks in the third inning.

"He'll be evaluated after the swelling goes down in a day or two," said Oates, who has seen players drop on almost a daily basis.

Jeff McKnight (bruised left wrist) was placed on the disabled list yesterday to make room for Gomez and Bill Ripken remains on a day-to-day basis with a stiff back.

Milligan probably will be out for the rest of the Toronto series.

* GOOD NEWS ON DAVIS: Oates finally heard a medical report that was encouraging yesterday. "We got very good news about Glenn Davis," he said of the injured first baseman.

"There is a possibility he could be hitting in the cage as early as next week. He won't do any throwing, but the [accessory nerve in his neck] injury is not bothering the swinging motion."

It is unlikely that Davis, who has played only 12 games, could return much before the midway point of the season. But even that would be earlier than the original estimates.

"All I know is that I'm looking forward to the day I can write his name in the lineup," said Oates.

* THE RIP WATCH: The most encouraging thing about the Orioles' come-from-behind win last night was the fact they scored four runs in the fifth inning without a hit from Cal Ripken.

Ripken extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single, but went hitless in his last three at-bats. His league-leading average dropped to .360.

* THIS 'N THAT: Todd Frohwirth pitched two-thirds of an inning last night and issued his first walk since joining the Orioles. He has now pitched 8 1/3 hitless innings in seven appearances.

The Orioles' bullpen had 2 2/3 scoreless innings and has allowed only one run in its last 32 innings, stranding all 21 inherited runners in the process.

Oates continues to give new meaning to the term "Captain Hook," using five pitchers to squeeze out last night's win.

Gregg Olson was overpowering, striking out three hitters in the ninth inning to record his ninth save of the year and 73rd of his career (third on the Orioles' all-time list).

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