Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines underwent arthroscopic surgery yesterday to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee. He will begin a rehabilitation program in a couple of days and is expected to be ready for the 1994 season.
Baines, 34, has played with chronic knee soreness for much of his 14-year major-league career. It was his fourth knee surgery, though the first three operations were on his right knee.
Club orthopedist Charles Silberstein performed the operation at Children's Hospital and indicated Baines should be able to get his leg in shape for spring training.
Baines had soreness and swelling in the left knee as early as the first week of spring training, but overcame that injury and a rib-cage strain to put together a solid offensive season. He hit 20 home runs and had 78 RBI in 118 games.
The injuries notwithstanding, the Orioles had no reason to regret the decision to acquire Baines from the Oakland Athletics last January and sign him to a one-year contract. He batted .313 and came up just 22 plate appearances short of ranking in the American League top 10 in batting average, slugging percentage (.511) and on-base percentage (.391).
He is eligible to file for free agency next month, but it seems likely Baines will return. He was a bargain at a relatively modest $1.1 million salary, so he figures to fit easily into the club's salary structure even with a significant raise.
Baines, a Maryland native who lives on the Eastern Shore, has said he would like to be back with the Orioles for the 1994 season.
* Orioles coach Davey Lopes is on new Houston Astros general manager Bob Watson's list of candidates to replace the fired Art Howe manager, The Associated Press reported.