Remember the workhorse of last season's bullpen? His name is Mark Eichhorn and he may be back in time to help the Orioles this season.
Eichhorn, who is on the 60-day disabled list, will begin throwing soon and could be back in uniform for the team's stretch run.
"That's what I'm hoping for," said Eichhorn, who'd like to begin a rehab assignment in mid-to-late August.
Eichhorn has spent most of the season charting pitches after having surgery to repair a slightly torn right rotator cuff in the off-season. He led the team with 71 innings out of the bullpen last season, compiling a 2.15 ERA in 43 games.
The longer the Orioles stay in contention, Eichhorn said, the more incentive he has to get back on the mound.
"My arm is really good. When they give me the word, I'm ready to start throwing," said Eichhorn. "I hope we stay close so when I come off [the disabled list] it really means something."
Hammonds returns to lineup
Jeffrey Hammonds was back in the Orioles' lineup last night after missing two days because of what manager Phil Regan described as a sore muscle behind his right shoulder.
But Hammonds, who went 0-for-3 to stretch his hitless streak to 16 at-bats, said he was fine.
"I'm about as good now as I was three days ago," said Hammonds. "I don't understand all the hoopla. I just to want to play. I'm not mad. Up to last night, we won six of the last eight, and I was in four of the last five games."
Regan said Hammonds' two days off came at the right time. "Sometimes just a couple days off clears the minds of a lot of players," he said.
The 15-day DL club
Jeff Manto ran with trainer Richie Bancells and took ground balls from bench coach Chuck Cottier yesterday and could be coming to a minor-league park near you.
Manto said he will go to Bowie today, work out for three days, then be the designated hitter on Sunday. He will be in Frederick as a DH on Monday and will play third base there Wednesday.
"Everything went well today," Manto said. "I could probably hit, but if I tried to run out an infield hit, I don't know if I could do that."
By going on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment during the All-Star break, Manto said he will be back in the majors on schedule.
"I'll definitely be ready when the 15 days is up," Manto said.
Meanwhile, Ben McDonald (tendinitis) will pitch Sunday against Chicago, and Kevin Brown (dislocated index finger) "looks like he's coming along," Regan said.
Regan said the key to the Orioles' chances of making a second-half run hinge on a healthy McDonald and Brown and a hitting Manto and Chris Hoiles.
"Those three or four guys are important to us," Regan said. "They would give us a little more momentum in the second half."
Harris hedges against surgery
Gene Harris, the reliever who came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Andy Van Slyke trade, seems to be leaning against having surgery to repair the torn ligament in his elbow.
That's because Harris is still throwing in the mid-90s, and if he's used right, Harris said, he can still pitch. "I may ask Phil to make me a one-inning, 1 1/3 -inning-type guy," Harris said.
Harris said he would like to warm up only once during a game, knowing that he would pitch.
"Then I can blow it out," Harris said. "I can throw mostly fastballs."
It's Harris' slider that has been straining his ailing elbow.
There's that guy again
Left fielder Brady Anderson will remember Matt Walbeck. The Twins catcher threw him out stealing again last night, two days after ending his consecutive-steal streak at 36. Walbeck also was the last catcher to throw out Anderson before the streak -- on May 13, 1994.
Around the horn
A corps of pitchers -- Mark Lee, Terry Clark, Mike Oquist, John DeSilva and Brown -- was playing hackysack before batting practice yesterday. Brown seemed to be the most skilled of the bunch. . . . The Orioles' first-round draft pick, Alvie Shepherd Jr., will attend several of the team's games in Chicago. He lives in nearby Hillside, Ill.
HITS AND MISSES
On the field: Orioles catcher Greg Zaun threw out two runners trying to steal last night, which wouldn't be a big deal if opposing runners hadn't had so much success against the Orioles this year. Before Matt Nokes was cut loose, he threw out just two of 17 runners trying to steal in 17 games. Zaun has thrown out two of five -- in just his fifth start.
In the dugout: Orioles manager Phil Regan has said that he's considering moving Curtis Goodwin to leadoff and Brady Anderson down into the middle of the order after the All-Star break, but he seems settled on his No. 2 hitter. Manny Alexander has hit No. 2 for the past 11 games.
In the clubhouse: First baseman Rafael Palmeiro, asked about what Minnesota starter Mike Trombley was doing to shut down the Orioles: "Nothing. He wasn't doing anything, really. He was throwing crap up there. We just didn't do anything."