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Gomez to face surgery? Decision expected today Medication's effect on wrist awaited


Leo Gomez expects to find out today if his injured left wrist requires surgery.

The Orioles third baseman has been on the disabled list since July 8 with what has been described as tendinitis.

"They changed his medication yesterday [Sunday] and the first two days are the most important," said manager Johnny Oates. "After about 48 hours they will be able to tell how much discomfort he has and whether surgery is necessary."

Gomez said he experienced numbness in his wrist last Friday. "I had never had that before," he said.

It was at that point that his medication was increased. "Right now I can't swing the bat the way I'm supposed to," said Gomez. "When I swing I want to be able to hurt somebody with home runs or line drives. I don't want to be hitting bloopers or ground balls."

There are varying estimates -- from four weeks to the rest of the season -- as to how long Gomez would be out if he needs surgery. "They told me it would be two to three weeks before I could grab a bat," he said.

"Hopefully [if surgery is necessary] I could be back and playing in September."

Meanwhile, the Orioles have not rushed their experiment of using Mark McLemore at third base. McLemore has started only three of the nine games the Orioles have played since Gomez went on the disabled list.

Reports out of Cincinnati say the Orioles have expressed interest in Reds third baseman Chris Sabo. Club officials have declined to comment on that possibility.

Baines left out

Harold Baines was out of the lineup for the second straight game yesterday, but not for physical reasons.

"I just looked at the numbers and didn't like what I saw," said Oates. Baines was hitting only .167 (4-for-24) against Kansas City starter Dennis Rasmussen.

Rasmussen was the second straight left-hander to start against the Orioles, following Minnesota's Eddie Guardado. Baines being out of the lineup "is just part of the rotation system, keeping 10 or 11 guys sharp," said Oates. "Harold will play tomorrow [tonight] against David Cone and then we'll see about Wednesday [when the Royals will pitch left-hander Chris Haney], but it's unlikely."

By using Jeffrey Hammonds as the designated hitter last night, Oates was able to keep Tim Hulett at third base and McLemore in right field, with Harold Reynolds returning to second base after having Sunday off.

Topping the field

The Orioles played their 56th errorless game of the season Sunday, when they became the leading defensive team in the major leagues with a fielding percentage of .986 before play last night.

After making five errors May 23, the Orioles ranked eighth in the American League in fielding, with 31 errors in 42 games. They made only 20 errors in the next 50 games.

At their current pace, the Orioles would finish the season with 90 errors, which would be the fifth straight season with less than 100 errors. No other major-league team has ever had more than two straight.

The Orioles have led the major leagues in fielding two of the past four years (1989 and 1991).

Off days coming up

The Orioles have one day off before and one after a two-game series in Toronto next week, and Oates said he hasn't decided yet how he'll handle the starting rotation.

"We've got it [the pitching] lined up through the games in Toronto," Oates said, "but we haven't gone beyond that."

Mike Mussina and Rick Sutcliffe will pitch the two games against the Blue Jays. If Oates keeps everyone else in order, the other three starters (Fernando Valenzuela, Jamie Moyer and Ben McDonald) would have to pitch with six days of rest rather than four.

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