Manto felt game's latest 'kick' quickly


Jeff Manto knew that his injury was serious the instant he felt the pain in the back of his left leg. He had moved to his right to backhand a grounder, planted his left leg and -- boom -- right away, a twinge.

He limped off the field with a pulled hamstring, his storybook season on hold. After the game, Manto, hitting .281 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in little more than a month since replacing Leo Gomez at third, was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The Orioles purchased the contract of infielder Jeff Huson from Triple-A Rochester to take Manto's roster spot. Huson, who will be used as a utility player, was hitting .260 with three homers and 15 stolen bases for the Red Wings. Gomez will move back into the starting lineup.

Manto, 30, had established himself after years of bouncing around the minor leagues. He walked into the clubhouse on crutches afterward, and said he'll have a better idea of exactly how long he'll be out later in the week. But he probably won't be back before the All-Star break.

"The game has always spit on me, kicked on me, and thrown me out the door," said Manto. "I don't want to sound like a martyr, but this [injury] is exactly what I'm talking about.

"Just when I was gaining confidence and having fun, the skies opened up, a voice says, 'You're having too much fun,' and I get injured and have to sit out. I'm used to it by now."

Orioles manager Phil Regan said: "It's a tough loss for us, no doubt, because he plays with a lot of enthusiasm and drive. He's got 12 homers and 30 RBIs, and that's tough to replace."

Gomez went into Regan's office early in the homestand and asked him if he would play again this year, and Regan assured him he would. Just stay ready, he told Gomez.

"Leo's worked hard," Regan said, "and now he's got this opportunity."

When Gomez walked on to the field to replace Manto yesterday, the crowd greeted him with generous applause.

"This isn't the way I meant to play again," Gomez said. "I don't want anybody to get hurt. But I'm happy to be back in the lineup."

Oquist to stay in bullpen . . .

With Gene Harris going on the disabled list, the Orioles shifted Mike Oquist -- previously scheduled to start tomorrow in Milwaukee -- into the bullpen, and purchased the contract of right-hander John DeSilva from Triple-A Rochester. DeSilva will start in Milwaukee, where he made his major-league debut in 1993.

DeSilva pitched against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Orioles' final exhibition game April 24. "I pitched really well," DeSilva said yesterday, "and I showed them I had a lot of poise. I think they want someone who is very aggressive."

DeSilva went 7-5 in 14 games for the Red Wings, compiling a 3.91 ERA. He allowed 79 hits and 23 walks and struck out 50 in 78 1/3 innings.

. . . and more pitching news

Regan said he was encouraged by Sid Fernandez's performance Saturday at Double-A Bowie, primarily because Fernandez's velocity had improved. In his first rehab start, Fernandez's fastball topped out at 84 mph, and had slowed to 80 by the fifth inning. But Saturday, he threw as high as 86 mph, and consistently kept his velocity in the range of 84 mph over seven innings. Regan said Fernandez, eligible to come off the disabled list at any time, will make the trip with the club, although he's not sure when the left-hander will pitch next for the Orioles. . . . Kevin Brown, on the disabled list after the tip of his finger was dislocated Friday night, played catch lightly Saturday night. . . . Ben McDonald, out with a sore shoulder, said he's feeling better, and expects that when he meets with Dr. James Andrews tomorrow, Andrews will tell him that all he needs to heal is a little more rest.

Around the horn

Boston's Lee Tinsley went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. . . . Cal Ripken left for a pinch runner in the seventh, the 61st time during his streak that he left the game early.

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