Arthur Rhodes is scheduled to throw off a mound Thursday and could be activated from the disabled list this weekend.
Rhodes, one of the most effective relief pitchers in the league in the first half of the season, has spent most of the second half on the DL with pain in the top of his pitching shoulder.
If Rhodes shows he could contribute in even a limited role, he would be a likely addition to the Orioles' postseason roster, replacing a less effective reliever like Mike Milchin.
"He's feeling good," manager Davey Johnson said. "He threw a couple of times now and my understanding is he didn't have any pain. So, we'll keep throwing him and see how it goes.
"I told Arthur, think about this, sometimes the game comes down to one at-bat and I'd like to have him throwing that 95 mph heat out there for that one at-bat."
Rhodes hasn't thrown off a mound since Aug. 6, and last week he got a cortisone shot for this shoulder, which he said was not responding well at the time. Rhodes took a week off after the shot and has been playing catch every other day.
"I'm just throwing for now, that's it," Rhodes said. "I'm just soft tossing. It feels OK. It feels good for now. But I'm not going to rush it. It's only been two days. I really can't tell now when I'll be able to pitch in a game."
Rhodes was brought along slowly in spring training after shoulder surgery last September to repair torn cartilage. The Orioles weren't sure how much he could handle early in the season.
But he emerged as a left-handed force, going 8-0 out of the bullpen to open the season, the second best streak ever by an Orioles reliever. At the All-Star break, Rhodes was 9-0 with a 3.47 ERA, the second best start in club history for any pitcher (Dave McNally started 15-0 in 1969).
Then Rhodes lost his first game of the season in a big series with the New York Yankees three games into the second half. Nine days later, he was on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Rhodes spent a month on the DL, made two appearances, then returned to the DL Aug. 6 and hasn't pitched since.
Any team the Orioles would play in the playoffs has candidates for Rhodes to face: Cleveland's Jim Thome, Seattle's Ken Griffey and New York's Tino Martinez.
"If he can give me one at-bat every other day, that would be something we'd really look at," Johnson said. "The doctors tell me he can't hurt himself."
Pub Date: 9/24/96