Hoiles returns to the everyday lineup


After an absence of 51 games, Chris Hoiles returned to the Orioles' lineup last night, and manager Johnny Oates said the catcher would immediately go back to his former role.

"He's going to do what he was doing before," said Oates. "He's catch- ing every day."

Hoiles, who had been disabled since suffering a fractured bone in his right wrist after being hit by a pitch by the New York Yankees' Tim Leary on June 21, spent last week on a rehabilitation assignment with the Hagerstown Suns. He hit .458 (11-for-24) with one home run in seven games for the Orioles' Double-A club.

"I think there was some convincing [on his part] to do," said Hoiles, who went 0-for-3 with a walk last night. "Any time you have an injury like this, you have to convince them you're ready.

"I'm sure he [Oates] wouldn't want me to come back and hurt the team or myself if I wasn't ready. The reason I went down there [to Hagerstown] was to work on my arm strength and to get some at-bats."

Oates relied on Hoiles and reports from the minor-league department in making his decision. "I didn't have a chance to see him," said Oates.

"I told them to let me know when he's ready. I talked to Don [Hagerstown manager Don Buford] Sunday night, and he told me he was ready. Since we didn't have a game, I said, 'Let him catch one more up there, and if everything goes all right, send him down here.' "

Hoiles said that there is still occasional soreness in his wrist but nothing that would curtail him on the field. "At the end of the night, after everything [including rehabilitation exercises], there's a little pain when I take the tape off," he said. "But it doesn't bother me to hit or throw."

Before he was hurt, Hoiles was leading the team with 14 home runs (he is now tied for third), was fifth in the American League in slugging percentage (.539) and on-base percentage (.403) and eighth in walks (41).

During Hoiles' absence, the most significant factor was the Orioles' drop in home run production. Before he was hurt, the Orioles had 73 home runs in 67 games, second in the league. In the 51 games he missed, the Orioles hit 38 homers, dropping to sixth.

Parent to Rochester

To make room for Hoiles on the roster, the Orioles optioned Mark Parent to Rochester. Parent played nine games with the Orioles (2-for-18, .111, one home run, two RBI).

"I wasn't surprised," said Parent. "When Chris came back, I figured I'd probably be the one to go. I was the odd man out before, I'm the odd man out now -- why should it change?"

Parent will rejoin Rochester when the Red Wings return home Friday. "They have an off day and one game in Toledo. I don't think I'll miss Toledo," he said.

Parent was told by the Orioles that he would be recalled after the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

No DL for Orsulak

The return of Hoiles was not the only piece of good news for the Orioles last night. After another examination, it was determined that outfielder Joe Orsulak would not have to be placed on the disabled list.

"He's greatly improved," said Oates. "He's getting better every day -- and if he had to play tonight [last night], he could."

Orsulak, who leads the Orioles with a .307 average, jammed his left thumb attempting a diving catch Saturday night. He hasn't started the past two games.

Gomez the slugger

Only three AL players have more home runs since the All-Star break than Orioles third baseman Leo Gomez. The Toronto Blue Jays' Candy Maldonado and Gomez each have eight, trailing the Texas Rangers' Juan Gonzales (11), Oakland Athletics' Mark McGwire (10) and Detroit Tigers' Cecil Fielder (nine).

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