McDonald: Tendinitis, uncertainty


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- First, the good news on Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald, examined in Baltimore yesterday because of shoulder soreness: He has no major damage, no tears.

But there's bad news, as well. McDonald continues to suffer mild tendinitis, which is causing stiffness in his shoulder, and the Orioles really have no idea when he'll be able to pitch or how effective he'll be or if the tendinitis will go away this season.

"It's just a continuation of what he had," said Orioles manager Phil Regan.

McDonald was placed on the disabled list June 22 with tendinitis, then activated July 14. He pitched well that night against the Kansas City Royals, going six innings, but lasted only 2 2/3 against the Twins on Wednesday.

McDonald will throw at Camden Yards on Tuesday, and Regan said that the workout likely will determine if McDonald will be able to start against Chicago next weekend, or if he'll have to go back on the disabled list.

If he is sidelined, left-hander Arthur Rhodes may start in his place, or the Orioles may choose to leave Rhodes in the bullpen -- where he's had success -- and call up Rick Krivda, who pitched well against the White Sox on July 7.

No new trade info

There's no change in the Orioles trade negotiations with the New York Mets over Bobby Bonilla. The two sides talked again yesterday, and the Mets continued to insist on the inclusion of Orioles minor-leaguer Alex Ochoa in a trade.

The Orioles have contacted clubs about other players, such as ** Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa, but a club source says nothing serious has developed. Bonilla is the Orioles' choice, and Toronto's Joe Carter is the second choice (although the Orioles haven't discussed Carter much with the Blue Jays).

Another Ochoa backer

Orioles third baseman Jeff Huson, who has five years in the big leagues, played with Ochoa for two months this year, at Triple-A Rochester.

"I think he's going to be a very, very good player," Huson said. "I don't know if he's going to be a dominant-type player, as far as hitting 25-30 homers and driving in 100 runs. But the thing about him that I like is he hits the ball to right already, and he'll learn how to turn on the ball as he gets older."

Huson says Ochoa has above-average speed, and could steal 15 bases in a season, and, joining conventional wisdom, he thinks Ochoa is an exceptional defensive player.

"I could see why the Mets would say they want him," Huson said.

Ochoa has a reputation for being a hard worker, which Huson confirmed. "He has a very, very strong work ethic," Huson said. "He's not afraid to work, not afraid to listen."

Huson said that one night, he admonished Ochoa for not running out a ground ball. "He said, 'Yeah, you're right, I should've.' It's very rare to find that in young players.

"With him, I wouldn't say his potential is unlimited. But because of his work ethic, there's no telling what he can do."

So would Huson trade Ochoa for Bonilla?

"If I'm a GM right now," Huson said, "and knowing the way our ownership is -- very committed and very concerned about winning this year -- I'd say, yeah, I'd make the trade.

"But I'd hate to see him go. That's a tough one. Who's to say what Alex will be? But that's the chance you've got to take."

Shepherd deal nearing

The Orioles have made another offer to first-round pick Alvie Shepherd, whose father says now that a deal is imminent. "It's getting close," said Alvie Shepherd Sr. "Hopefully, we'll get it done very soon."

It stands to reason that if the two sides are this close, the deal likely will be completed during the Orioles' homestand in the next two weeks; teams typically like to announce signings and hold news conferences to introduce the No. 1 pick while the team is at home.

Hoiles improving

Chris Hoiles, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring, is making progress and has started throwing. At this time, Regan said, he thinks Hoiles will be ready to be activated at the end of the 15 days, next weekend. Regan doesn't know if the same holds true for right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, out with a strained muscle above his right shoulder. . . . The Oriole Wives will hold a silent auction Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Camden Yards, selling jerseys, bats, balls and other items.

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