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McDonald is back, but when?


Orioles right-hander Ben McDonald says he's pitching tomorrow. Manager Phil Regan says that's still undecided.

McDonald, who was activated from the disabled list yesterday, pitched two rehabilitation starts at Triple-A Rochester.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there," said McDonald, who has been on the DL since July 25 with tendinitis in his right shoulder. Speaking like it's a foregone conclusion, McDonald said he expects to throw 90 pitches tomorrow in place of starter Jamie Moyer.

Regan hedged on McDonald's assumption. "We haven't decided on Wednesday," Regan said. "That date's open. I'm not ready to say he's going to pitch."

The conditions in his last start at Rochester were rough -- 51 degrees and rainy. But McDonald said he saw improvement, missing down in the strike zone instead of missing up.

"My stuff was better this time around," he said. "My breaking ball was better. My mechanics were better."

Gomez, Eichhorn to depart

Two Orioles have decided to pack it up and go home -- third baseman Leo Gomez and reliever Mark Eichhorn.

Gomez, who had surgery Friday to remove a bone chip in his right foot, showed up at Camden Yards yesterday with an orange cast. It may be his last ballpark visit.

Confined to a cast for three to four weeks, Gomez intends to return home to Puerto Rico as early as today.

"I'd like to go home," Gomez said.

Gomez said he would like to play winter ball in Puerto Rico to make up for his disappointing season.

"I can't do anything about this year. This year I feel the same as when I got the operation on my wrist [July 1993]," Gomez said.

Gomez, like McDonald, recognizes that his Orioles future is in doubt.

"I'd like to come back here if they gave me a chance," Gomez said. "I guarantee you I'll be 100 percent and try to help the club."

The other early departure, Eichhorn, never got started this season. He had rotator cuff surgery in February, wasn't expected to pitch this season and didn't.

Eichhorn is returning home to California, will continue to rehabilitate and may pitch in a California winter league if he gets healthy, Regan said.

"He won't be pitching again this year," Regan said. "Hopefully by December or January he can start throwing."

More gifts for Ripken

The gifts for baseball's new iron man keep coming in. Sports Illustrated presented Cal Ripken with a framed copy of this week's cover. . . . Ken Burns personally presented Ripken with a copy of his nine-part, 18-hour "Baseball" documentary so Ripken can learn more about Lou Gehrig. . . . The Orioles plan on auctioning off the numbers that hung on the B&O; warehouse during Streak Week and donating the money to a local charity, according to public relations director John Maroon.

Around the horn

The Orioles again had more lows than highs in the AL's weekly statistics from last week. Ripken's three home runs tied for second highest, but Jeff Huson (.059) and Manny Alexander (.077) were the third and fifth lowest in average. . . . Rookie Curtis Goodwin is 4-for-9 lifetime against Roger Clemens. . . . Ripken, hitless since The Game, broke an 0-for-11 skid with a fifth-inning single.

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