X-rays don't lie, but they do sometimes mislead.
The Orioles' initial fears over the condition of Jeffrey Hammonds' right knee were calmed when the problems revealed in a magnetic resonance imaging test could be traced to a high school football injury (a tear in a ligament), said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond.
Hammonds said he twisted his knee hitting in the indoor batting cages Saturday. He said he did not inform the trainers until Tuesday. After he was examined by the Orioles' medical staff, X-rays were taken and the results initially made the Orioles cringe.
"It's an old injury that we were concerned about at first," Hemond said yesterday. "That's really what was showing and we didn't know about the high school injury at the time. Jeffrey was telling me, 'Roland, this is not serious. Don't worry.' "
The Orioles announced after Tuesday night's game that they were placing Hammonds (strained right knee) on the disabled list retroactive to May 4, which means he will be eligible to come off a week from today. They recalled Mark Smith from Triple-A Rochester to take his place.
"We're encouraged that indications are he has a real good
chance of being ready when the disabled list expires on the 19th," Hemond said.
Hammonds underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after injuring his right knee playing football his junior year of high school.
"That's when I knew it was time to give up that sport," said Hammonds, who did not play football his senior year.
Hammonds had missed six games because of the effects of a concussion suffered in a play at home plate in Seattle on April 30.
"My head was hurting and I was answering all the questions about my head," Hammonds said. "I wasn't going to bring up the knee. I didn't think it was anything. Then when the swelling didn't go away I figured I better get it checked out."
The Orioles feared the worst after initially reviewing the X-rays, but felt better about Hammonds' chances of recovering after comparing the results with medical records from his high school injury.
Hammonds' 1993 season was cut short by a herniated disk in his neck.
"It's really frustrating, especially when I feel I'm starting to get the hang of it," he said. "I just have to look at it like God is doing this to me to keep everything in check. I can't get down. I can't keep beating myself up mentally. I just want to get it all out of my system now."
Hammonds, 23, is hitting .326 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs and 14 RBIs.
"He hasn't even begun to tap some of his tools yet," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.
Another guy named Smith
The Orioles now have more Smiths than the front of a cough drop box.
The addition of outfielder Mark to go with designated hitter Lonnie and closer Lee gives the Orioles three Smiths.
Mark Smith, the Orioles' first-round draft choice in 1991, was called to the major leagues for the first time yesterday.
He hit .245 in 29 games for Triple-A Rochester. He left a favorable enough impression on the Orioles' front office to get the call when Hammonds was placed on the disabled list.
Smith hit .300 with one home run and eight RBIs in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.
Brady Anderson was among the first to welcome Smith to the big leagues.
"Brady told me congratulations, but you're going back tomorrow," Smith said. "I thought what happened? Then I realized we're going back up there for the exhibition."
The Orioles are scheduled to play an exhibition at Rochester tonight.
Smith was informed of the promotion while in Ottawa with the Red Wings. "I've been waiting for that call pretty much my whole life," Smith said.
Oates said he would look at his right-field starter on a daily basis, choosing from among Smith, recently promoted Damon Buford, and last night's starter Jack Voigt.
A prospect on the rise
Hemond watched Bowie Baysox right-hander Jimmy Haynes pitch yesterday afternoon in a game at the Naval Academy. Bowie, playing its second game at the Naval Academy, lost to the Harrisburg Senators, 8-7. Haynes (4-1, 2.49 ERA) was not involved in the decision and allowed four earned runs in seven innings.
Hemond sounded impressed with Haynes but would not say whether he was a candidate for promotion.
"I don't want to speculate on that," Hemond said. "You don't want to get someone's hopes up, but he does look good. He can pitch. I like him a lot."
Searching for help
The Orioles are in the market for a left-handed bat off the bench. They have an interest in California Angels platoon left fielder Dwight Smith. . . . San Diego right-hander Andy Benes remains No. 1 on their wish list, but Padres management fears a major attendance backlash if he is traded.