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Cramp puts crimp into Hoiles' surge


It has been a trying season for catcher Chris Hoiles.

And his troubles may or may not have ended last night.

Hoiles pulled up rounding first base on what should have been a second-inning double.

Instead, Hoiles left the game with what was believed to be a pulled left hamstring. He's hoping, though, that it was just a heat-induced cramp.

"It didn't feel like a pull," Hoiles said. "It doesn't feel like a pull now, either. Then, with hamstrings, you never know."

Team doctors will not know until they examine Hoiles today whether it was a cramp or the same injury that put third baseman Jeff Manto on the 15-day disabled list.

Orioles manager Phil Regan is optimistic.

"It may not be as bad as we first thought," Regan said.

Hoiles is due for some good news. He seemed to be coming around after what has been one of the worst starts of his career.

He batted .211 (15-for-71) in May and .136 (9-for-67) in June and admitted the pressure of his new five-year, $17.25 million had gotten to him.

But Hoiles began to turn things around right before the All-Star break in Chicago, where he was 7-for-15 with a double and two home runs. He finished with a six-game hitting streak (10-for-21) and raised his average 38 points to .209.

"The way I'm feeling, it's been tough to get going, I can't afford to miss two weeks or whatever it may be," Hoiles said.

The Mendoza line seemed like a memory for Hoiles as he smacked a sure double into the gap in right center.

Hoiles said he started to feel pain in his left leg just before his right foot hit the first-base bag.

He appeared to trip as he rounded first.

"I caught it right before, just as I was landing with my right foot," Hoiles said.

Hoiles has not had good luck with injuries the last three years.

In 1993, he missed 21 games with a strained lower back muscle.

The year before that Tim Leary broke his right wrist with what the Orioles believed was a doctored pitch. Hoiles missed 51 games.

"Any time you have to leave the lineup because of an injury it's frustrating," Hoiles said.

But this one came right when Hoiles was shedding the expectations of his big contract and his early season slump.

Hoiles is hitting .400 (12-for-30) in his last eight games with six runs, four doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs.

A scare is the last thing he needs.

After the game Hoiles iced his leg and told Regan it was sore. But Hoiles will have to wait a day to find out how it will affect his season.

C7 "Hopefully, it wasn't anything major," Hoiles said.

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