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When heat gets high, the battery runs dry


Most major-leaguers don't need to lose 12 pounds -- certainly not in one day.

But when it's 100 degrees outside and it's your turn to pitch, chances are that is what will happen. And chances are that kind of diet isn't endorsed by Weight Watchers.

For the Orioles and every other major-league team, careful monitoring and hydration are the key words when the weather turns ugly, draining even the fittest athletes.

"The thing you have to guard against is dehydration," said manager Johnny Oates. "The weight they are losing is pure liquid and the thing you try to do is put as much of that liquid back in the body as you can."

Ben McDonald pitched into the seventh inning Friday night, sweat pouring from his body, and lost 12 pounds. Yesterday, he reported to Camden Yards feeling "real weak," even though he had regained four of the pounds. He believes all or most of the weight will return before his next start, scheduled for the end of the week.

"You should regain it all, but you lose some doing your running," McDonald said. "This time will be easier because of the extra time with the All-Star break."

Trainer Richie Bancells said the idea is to keep players "well-hydrated" with water and Gatorade and "maintain their potassium and sodium levels."

That means intake of salt and potassium tablets and, during the game, frequent trips up and down the bench to check for any problems. Cold, ammonia-soaked towels are applied to players to keep the head and upper body as cool as possible.

"With dehydration you can get muscle cramps and have big problems," said McDonald. "So in this kind of weather you pound lot of water. I usually drink a can of Gatorade or a cup of water between every inning."

L In ballparks with artificial turf, it's significantly worse.

It was 100 degrees yesterday at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia for the Phillies-Giants game, but a thermometer by the pitcher's mound hit 166 and another in the third-base dugout hit 140.

Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper keeps cabbage soaking in ice water on hand. Cabbage? "The cellulose holds in the coolness," he said.

In Florida, the Marlins are taking action to beat the heat. The players voted last week to wear shorts during batting practice, ,, and the team's new look debuted Friday night before a game against Atlanta.

"Shorts don't look too good with black shoes, do they?" Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine said. "By looks alone, they're not a keeper. But they're functional, and that's what counts."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Orioles starter Fernando Valenzuela was inspiring and perspiring yesterday and, after pitching eight shutout innings, he was able to cool off with a towel dipped in cold water. Despite the stifling heat and humidity, the rejuventated left-hander increased his consecutive shutout innings streak to 23 2/3 in his past three starts. Here is a breakdown of those outings:

Date.. .. ..Opp. Dec.. ..IP.. ..H .. ..ER.. ..SO

6/30 .. .. .Tor. W.. .. .9 .. ..6 .. ..0 .. .. 2

7/5 .. .. ..K.C. ND .. ..6 2/3 .. ..3.. .. 0 .. .. 3

7/10.. .. ..Chi. W.. .. 8 .. ..2 .. ..0 .. .. 3

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