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McDonald, Regan find a solution


A potentially explosive situation was diffused when Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald agreed to pitch out of the bullpen and manager Phil Regan agreed to specify McDonald's role.

McDonald, who is recovering from tendinitis in his shoulder, will pitch every five days with only one bullpen warm-up. Call him the Orioles' sixth starter.

"Now my role is defined a little more, I can live with that," McDonald said.

McDonald did not pitch last night, but threw beforehand in the bullpen. He said he plans on making his first bullpen appearance Monday in Detroit.

Regan wasn't as definite about McDonald's first appearance, but seemed relieved the controversy was over. "For me," Regan said. "it was never really an issue."

But McDonald thought it was. After Tuesday's game, he said he would refuse to pitch out of the bullpen because he said two doctors warned him against it. Warming up several times, they said, could reaggravate McDonald's shoulder injury.

He also said that in Cleveland, Regan had promised him a starting spot. "I told Phil that I wouldn't have been so upset if he had dealt with me honestly from the beginning," McDonald said.

Regan said his plans changed after Rochester was eliminated from the playoffs and Jimmy Haynes became an available starter.

"I don't hold any grudges against players," Regan said. "Ben's an important part of our ballclub. I'm proud to see he's in a better frame of mind."

McDonald still is unhappy about not starting, seeing it as an indication the Orioles are uncertain he will be back next season. McDonald said he expects to return.

"The big guy, Mr. [Peter] Angelos, said I was in the plans for next year," McDonald said. "That's all I can go on right now."

If his teammates decided, McDonald would be back.

"I think he's a very vital piece of the puzzle if we're going to win," catcher Chris Hoiles said.

Hoiles has been McDonald's batterymate for going on five seasons and appreciates the transformation he has made from thrower to pitcher.

"He's a proven big-league pitcher, he's a winner," Hoiles said. "In the clubhouse, he's a person you like to have around."

Cal Ripken, whose locker is next to McDonald's, agrees.

"I think it's very important to have Ben McDonald back," Ripken said. "He's developed to the point where you really reap the benefits of your time and development."

Brady Anderson echoed Ripken's and Hoiles' endorsement.

"When he's on, he's one of the best pitchers in the league," Anderson said. "Besides this year, he's been very durable."

Ripken beat Gehrig, and illness

The Iron Man wasn't totally healthy during Streak Week. Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record with a fever.

USA Today previously had reported that Ripken suffered from an ear infection; Ripken wasn't so sure.

"I don't know if it was an ear infection," Ripken said. "It could have been nerves. It could have been a flu bug. None of those things were diagnosed, but I had a fever."

Third is fine with Bonilla

Bobby Bonilla is playing third base for the rest of the reason, and that's OK by him, especially if he's playing there next season.

"If I'm going to play there next year, I need to get a lot of work in," Bonilla said.

Bonilla made two throwing errors at third last night. But it doesn't matter to him where he plays in the field.

"My preference is to win," Bonilla said. "I'm past all this individual stuff. I want to get to the World Series."

Around the horn

Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds (strained trapezius muscle) still has not received permission to take batting practice, although he was used as a pinch runner last night. . . . Second baseman Manny Alexander (pulled groin muscle) hasn't begun running. . . . Boston won the season series, 9-4. . . . Red Sox DH Jose Canseco has hit in 31 of his last 32 games.

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