McDonald faced suspension if he refused bullpen duty


The Orioles would have suspended pitcher Ben McDonald on Wednesday had he not agreed to pitch out of the bullpen, club sources said yesterday.

McDonald, who said Tuesday that he would not pitch in relief, met with Orioles manager Phil Regan for 10 minutes Wednesday afternoon and with general manager Roland Hemond for about five minutes, and an accord was reached. McDonald would pitch out of the bullpen on pre-assigned days, and would be given ample time to warm up to protect his arm.

Had McDonald dissented, the sources indicated, he would have been suspended immediately. McDonald said that the possibility of suspension never came up during his meetings with Regan and Hemond.

"This is the first I've heard of that," McDonald said. "That was never brought up."

Had McDonald been suspended for the rest of the season, he would have lost about $500,000 of his $4.5 million salary.

GM decision put on hold

The Orioles, denied permission to talk to Cleveland assistant GM Dan O'Dowd, will wait until after the season to determine Hemond's fate and pursue other general manager candidates, club sources say.

Besides O'Dowd, who could be considered again if Cleveland owner Richard Jacobs changes his mind and grants the Orioles permission, possible alternatives include San Diego GM Randy Smith, under contract through the end of October (unless the Padres exercise a 1996 option in his contract), and Boston Red Sox assistant GM Mike Port.

Hammonds takes BP

Jeffrey Hammonds, who hasn't batted since July with a strained trapezius muscle in his shoulder, took live batting practice for the first time yesterday. He still hasn't begun throwing, which would all but rule out any chance he plays the field again this year.

Hammonds, who has been used twice as a pinch runner since being activated, conceivably could pinch hit or be the designated hitter, but Regan didn't sound as if he expected that to happen.

"I could do that, but I'm not planning on that," the manager said. "He hasn't seen any live pitching. . . . I don't see him playing, as of right now. Say you bring him back for four or five games. Why? Why not let him go and maybe do something during the winter."

Hammonds, whose preference is not to play winter ball, said he was happy to just be back in the cage swinging a bat again. "[Regan] is going to use me the way he wants to use me," Hammonds said.

Twins decision awaited

Orioles officials are expected to contact the Minnesota Twins in the next couple of weeks about completing the Scott Erickson deal. The Orioles owe the Twins a player to be named, and Minnesota has the option of taking Double-A outfielder Kimera Bartee, who missed much of the year with a broken hand.

If the Twins are going to want another player, the Orioles will want to prepare a list of possible replacements soon. They have to decide by November whether they're going to protect Bartee on their own 40-man roster.

Ripken keepsakes through mail

Because of the demand for Cal Ripken memorabilia books and special baseballs, fans are encouraged to order by mail instead of trying to get through the jammed phone lines. By mail, the books cost $12.95 and the balls $20, plus $3.50 postage and handling per item. Send check or money orders to Baltimore Orioles, P.O. Box 16083, Baltimore, 21218.

Around the horn

The Orioles had talked internally about pursuing a third baseman this off-season, and at the top of their list was Ken Caminiti of the Padres. But Caminiti has agreed to terms on a two-year contract that hasn't been announced, an NL source said. . . . The Orioles will have another team picture taken today, because there have been so many roster changes. . . . Rookie Jimmy Haynes will pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Monday.

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