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Manto gets back to work in 4 at-bats with Baysox


BOWIE -- Jeff Manto must have thought he was having flashbacks.

Manto, a former career minor-leaguer who had been having a dreamy season with the Orioles, was back in the minors yesterday, this time with the Double-A Bowie Baysox on rehabilitation assignment.

Manto went 1-for-4 and scored one run, as the Baysox knocked off Harrisburg, 5-2, before 8,659 at Prince George's Stadium.

Manto, who joined Jeffrey Hammonds and former teammates Sid Fernandez and Andy Van Slyke as Orioles on rehab at Bowie this year, pulled his hamstring June 25 and was placed on the disabled list. Manto, the starter at third base, was batting .281 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs before the injury. At one point, Manto became a part of baseball history -- he was the 24th player to hit homers in four consecutive at-bats.

Yesterday, in his first at-bat as designated hitter, Manto had a 3-2 count and flied out to left field off Harrisburg right-hander Rod Henderson.

In his second at-bat, Manto fell behind in the count 1-2, but then hit a ground single past the third baseman.

After two walks, Manto was on third with no outs. The next two batters popped out, including one to left field, but Manto did not risk injury by attempting to tag up and score.

Finally, shortstop Gregg Castaldo dropped a hit into center field, and Manto jogged home.

"He's nursing a pulled hamstring, and you don't want him to do too much and get injured while on rehab," said Baysox manager Bob Miscik.

"Today, he hit the ball hard. This is just something for Jeff to keep his timing as close as he can and not fall backward. He's coming along. He was here for four days working out and running and getting a lot of extra batting practice."

In his final two at-bats, Manto faced right-hander Ken Kendrena and struck out swinging twice.

Manto has spent the majority of his 10-year pro career playing in the minor leagues. Before this year, he had two stints in the majors -- one with the Cleveland Indians in 1990 and '91 and the other in '93 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Manto, who was unavailable after the game, will play for Single-A Frederick in tonight's game against Prince William. The Orioles expect him also to play at Wilmington on Wednesday.

"It's good for him to get some at-bats," said Don Buford, the Orioles' assistant director of player development. "That'll get him back into the game, which is good to see . . . some live pitching. We got to see how his injury comes along."

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