Ailing Hammonds plans to shoulder load this year


Orioles right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds said his injured shoulder will not keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the season, but neither he nor club officials know when he will return.

"I haven't heard anything," Hammonds said. "I don't feel as though it's a season-ending injury."

General manager Roland Hemond said Hammonds is not expected to return Aug. 2, when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.

The status of another injured Orioles front-line player, starting pitcher Ben McDonald, is equally uncertain. McDonald may return to the disabled list with chronic tendinitis, pending a discussion today between Orioles team doctor Michael Jacobs and Alabama orthopedic specialist James Andrews.

Doctors have pinned down McDonald's injury, but not Hammonds'.

Hammonds, 24, was placed on the disabled list for the fourth time in his career July 18 in Texas, with a strained trapezius muscle in his right shoulder. Club officials reaffirmed that diagnosis yesterday, sort of, ambiguously describing it as a "weak shoulder."

The diagnosis, however, may change, depending on the results of the magnetic resonance imaging test Hammonds received upon his return to Baltimore after last week's Texas series. Doctors, who will reveal the results later this week, believe the injury may be more neurological than muscular.

Hammonds has been undergoing daily therapy at the Bennett Institute and is continuing to rest, club officials said.

Yesterday, Hammonds, teammates Brady Anderson, Greg Zaun and Curtis Goodwin and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson signed autographs for several hours at the Sheraton Inner Harbor to raise money for the Brady Anderson Fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation.

Signing autographs did not hurt Hammonds' trapezius muscle, but it apparently did lift his spirits.

"I have a very positive feeling that I'm going to come back and come back strong," Hammonds said. "The last thing I want to do is come out of the lineup."

This is the latest in a series of injuries that have bothered Hammonds over the past several seasons. A herniated disk in his neck ended his 1993 season. The next year, he suffered a concussion in a home-plate crash with Seattle Mariners catcher Bill Haselman, strained his knee and underwent postseason reconstructive knee surgery.

This season has been equally trying.

He rushed back from knee surgery at the start of the season, was demoted to Double-A Bowie in what amounted to a rehabilitation assignment, returned to the Orioles and enjoyed success at the plate.

The questions about Hammonds' knee disappeared in June, but then his shoulder started bothering him in early July.

Hammonds' outfield play worsened and his batting average plummeted from .293 on June 3 to .240 before he was placed on the disabled list last week.

"This year as a whole -- coming back from the knee surgery to this unfortunate thing -- I feel a lot older than I am in terms of wisdom," Hammonds said.

The maturity extends to the trade front, where Hammonds' name has been among several mentioned in the Bobby Bonilla sweepstakes. Hammonds said he is aware of the rumors, but not overly concerned.

"It's the first time I've ever been mentioned in that," Hammonds said. "I'm an Oriole at heart. This team's given me every opportunity."

Like the trade rumors, Hammonds is taking his latest injury in stride.

"I'm doing the best I can," he said. "Because of that, I can't be mad at myself, and I can't expect the team to be mad at me."


Opponent: Texas Rangers

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Rangers' Kenny Rogers (9-5, 3.07) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (6-7, 5.45)

Tickets: 9,000 remain

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