Hammonds has a day to forget


TORONTO -- Jeffrey Hammonds admitted this much about his three strikeouts and four hitless at-bats yesterday: It may have been the worst day of his major-league career.

"I'm not going to say that it will never happen again," Hammonds said, "but it won't happen often."

It wasn't that Hammonds just struck out; he looked horrible in doing so, once striking out on a pitch that crossed the plate at eye-level.

"I didn't have a clue up there today," said Hammonds, who has gone hitless in his last three starts after going 3-for-5 in Milwaukee Tuesday.

"I feel out of sync. I would like to say I'm seeing the ball OK, but I'm not. Today's 0-for-4 was terrible, but it was still 0-for-4. The one thing I don't want to do is put myself in a pattern of getting myself out."

Orioles manager Phil Regan revealed before the game that part of the reason that he rested Hammonds on Thursday was that the right fielder had some swelling in his right knee, which was operated on last October.

But Hammonds said the inflammation, which has since dissipated, has nothing to do with his recent slide. "It's fine now," he said.

Manto takes BP

Third baseman Jeff Manto, sidelined by a pulled left hamstring, took batting practice before yesterday's game for the first time since suffering the injury a week ago. Manto said he thinks he'll try running tomorrow, and may attempt a minor-league rehabilitation assignment sometime next week, maybe during the All-Star break.

Sorry, skip

Armando Benitez walked into Regan's office yesterday morning and apologized for throwing his glove in the dugout after giving up the game-winning hit Friday night.

Regan accepted the apology -- even though he hadn't known Benitez threw his glove -- and took it as a sign that the reliever is maturing.

"He's learning," Regan said. "It's taking time to learn. He's a young kid [22], but he's trying to do what's right. He's growing up."

Pitching updates

Kevin Brown, on the disabled list since the tip of his right index finger was dislocated by a line drive June 22, has been throwing and Regan said he might be ready to pitch right after the All-Star break. . . . Ben McDonald, recovering from a sore shoulder, threw off a mound for 12 minutes yesterday and plans to pitch a simulated game Tuesday. McDonald is scheduled to start July 9 in Chicago. . . . Left-hander Sid Fernandez did not retire yesterday. Instead, he went to the bullpen in his first day as a reliever since 1989.

Around the horn

Leo Gomez went 0-for-2 against Toronto starter Al Leiter and is 0-for-11 lifetime against the lefty. And Rafael Palmeiro went 3-for-4 against Leiter to improve to 8-for-15 lifetime. . . . Regan said he hoped that catcher Chris Hoiles would get hot after hitting a pinch-hit homer Friday night, but he went 0-for-4 yesterday, with two strikeouts. . . . Rookie Woody Williams starts for the Blue Jays today. The right-hander has replaced Danny Darwin in the Toronto rotation, and some younger members of the Orioles, who saw Williams pitch in the minors, were forwarding information to their teammates. . . . The Blue Jays have stolen just eight bases in their last 28 games. . . . Kevin Bass hit .371 in June, going 23-for-62 with 14 RBIs.

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