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Harris isn't sure surgery is the answer


Orioles reliever Gene Harris, diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow, is mulling whether to have reconstructive surgery, and he's just not sure what to do.

Harris, who turns 31 in December, still can throw his fastball in the mid-90s despite his injury. He was clocked at 98 mph the night before he was placed on the disabled list. But he has major trouble pitching on consecutive days, and throwing his slider causes him severe pain.

Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed the tear last week, told Harris to rest for 10 days, and if there was no improvement, he could consider the reconstructive surgery. Harris, however, is scared by the prospect of the operation -- a tendon is taken from a different part of the body to replace the torn ligament -- and may want to try a strengthening program.

"The minus [of the surgery] is that I'll probably be out 12 months, and I really didn't have any idea [the injury] would be that severe," said Harris. "The positive is that I'd be getting it done and corrected and come back."

Trying a strength program, Harris said, would keep him out of surgery. "But the negative is the recurrence," he said. "This [injury] could keep putting me on the shelf."

Harris has talked with fellow Orioles reliever Terry Clark, who also had the reconstructive surgery, and he may seek more advice from other players before making his decision.

Aches and pains

From the files of the walking wounded:

* Kevin Brown was given clearance to remove the splint on his right index finger and threw in the bullpen yesterday. Brown will work out again Friday, before pitching for Single-A Frederick in a rehabilitation start July 10. Assuming all goes well, Brown will be activated to start July 16, when the Orioles play host to the Kansas City Royals. Brown was placed on the disabled list two weeks ago after the tip of his right index finger was dislocated by a line drive.

* Ben McDonald, coming back from shoulder tendinitis, threw some 60 pitches in a simulated game yesterday and said he felt fine afterward. He will work out again Thursday, and if all goes well, he'll start in Chicago on Sunday. The way the Orioles' rotation is lining up, it figures that Scott Klingenbeck or John DeSilva will be returned to Triple-A Rochester to make room for McDonald on the team's 25-man roster.

* Orioles manager Phil Regan, who scratched right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds from the lineup Monday because of what he said was a stiff muscle above Hammonds' right shoulder, kept Hammonds out of the lineup again yesterday. "If I had to play him I could, but we're holding him out just to be on the safe side," Regan said. "It's much better today."

Eshelman call coming?

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he hasn't heard from Boston GM Dan Duquette about former Orioles farmhand Vaughn Eshelman, who was dropped from the Red Sox's rotation this week.

Boston drafted Eshelman out of the Orioles' minor-league system last December, and the left-hander won his first three starts. But he suffered arm problems and went on the disabled list. Since being activated, Eshelman has been awful; on June 25, he lasted just two innings against the Orioles, giving up five runs.

Because Eshelman was taken in the Rule V draft, he must be kept on the major-league roster all year or be offered back to the Orioles for $25,000, or half of his draft price.

The Red Sox also could try to arrange a trade with the Orioles that would allow them to keep Eshelman and send him to the minor leagues.

Eshelman also could be placed on the disabled list, which, in the past, has been a handy way for teams to retain Rule V draftees.

MacPhail resigns O's post

Lee MacPhail, the Orioles' assistant in player development, resigned from his job Monday. MacPhail, 26, who had worked for the Orioles for the better part of the past decade, declined to comment because he hasn't spoken yet with some club executives about his decision. He will work through July 14.

"I guess he has other plans," said Hemond. "He's a fine young man and he's done a good job for us. I gathered that he just wants to make a change in his life right now. . . . He talked about furthering his education. I gathered he'd like to be back in baseball at a future date."

One name circulating as a potential replacement is Ollie Goulston, who used to work as an administrator for the San Diego Padres. But Hemond indicated that the search for a replacement hasn't begun.

Puckett takes center stage

Kirby Puckett, shifted from center field to right virtually full-time two years ago, was as surprised as anyone when he learned he was starting in center field last night.

"TK [Twins manager Tom Kelly] has to tell me these things ahead of time," said Puckett, who had trouble with a high drive to the wall by Harold Baines in the fourth but made a fine running catch to deny Leo Gomez the next inning. "I'll go get them wherever I play."

Puckett last started in center field Oct. 3, 1993, going 2-for-4 with a homer against the Seattle Mariners.

Moyer gets tuned out

After pitching 7 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday, Jamie Moyer rushed from SkyDome to the airport to return home and be with his wife, Karen, who delivered the couple's third child Monday.

On his way to the airport, Moyer wanted to listen to the end of the game. But, Moyer said yesterday, his driver had a problem flipping the radio dial and driving at the same time.

"He's trying to find the game on the radio . . . and we're going about 40 mph on the highway," Moyer said. "Finally, I just told him not to worry about the radio. . . . He did a good job. He got me to the airport all right."

Moyer called home from the airport and found out from Karen that the Orioles had won, and Moyer had improved his record to 3-3.

Sellout streak

The crowd of 45,894 was the fourth straight sellout at Camden Yards and the seventh this season.

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