TORONTO -- In about a week's time, third baseman Todd Zeile has gone from the hottest Oriole to the coldest.
Zeile extended his slump to 0-for-21 yesterday by going hitless in four at-bats. He has just one hit in his past 30 at-bats.
Zeile grounded out, popped out and flied out twice last night, including a fly to center that left Brady Anderson stranded at second base with one out in the eighth inning and the Orioles down 3-1.
"I'm just trying to get my rhythm back," Zeile said. "I hurt my back in New York, either when [David] Cone hit me or lifting something. I had it treated for four or five days, but now it feels a lot better. I'm just not relaxing at the plate."
Zeile was on tear after coming over from Philadelphia on Aug. 29.
He hit safely in 17 of his first 26 games, and started his American League career with hits in his first eight games. Thirteen of his 26 hits this season were for extra bases and Zeile has five homers and 19 RBIs in 27 games with the Orioles.
"I've been stuck at 99 RBIs for the season for a while now, and maybe that's got in my head, too, a little bit," Zeile said. "I'm pressing a little bit, but I think it started from my physical problem."
Reliever Arthur Rhodes, on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, was activated yesterday.
Johnson would like Rhodes to face a few batters in the season finale tomorrow to get him prepared for the playoffs. Rhodes will throw on the side today, and said he felt great yesterday after throwing on Thursday.
13 years wiser
Cal Ripken said he has grown a lot in the 13 years since the Orioles made the postseason, and a berth now means a little more than then.
"I think we're in a situation now where I'd enjoy it a whole lot more," Ripken said. "[In 1983] it happened for me so fast. We were able to get to the playoffs, win our division and win the World Series in my second year.
"I think, not intentionally, maybe I took it for granted a little bit. I thought it would happen every year. And, the position I'm in now, I haven't been back. We went through a rebuilding situation. You're able to understand better [now] than you can your second year. It'll be nice to get back and see the excitement of the postseason again."
Alomar's tough homecoming
The Toronto fans are not being kind to Roberto Alomar.
When Ripken and Anderson homered on Thursday, they got receptive cheers from the crowd. But Alomar is booed vigorously when he bats.
Alomar said he is used to winning big games at SkyDome, but that was as a fan favorite, not the enemy. He was hoping for a warmer reaction from Blue Jays fans.
"It's a tough situation for me," Alomar said. "I played five years here for these fans and now I'm coming over with another team and might clinch here. I just have to see how they treat me [if the Orioles clinch]."
Being in Toronto also is weird for Brent Bowers, who was drafted by the Jays in 1989 and spent seven years in their minor-league system. He never made it higher than Triple-A with the Blue Jays and was signed by the Orioles last winter to play in Double-A.
Thursday night, Bowers finally got to watch a game from the dugout at SkyDome -- but from the opposition's side.
"I got to take batting practice here a couple of times when I won the MVP in rookie ball, but I never thought I'd be here like this," Bowers said. "Especially, playing against some of my friends and guys I came up with and the organization I had been with since I was 18 years old."
Mills taking it slow
Alan Mills will throw off a mound today to test his injured groin. Johnson said he does not want to rush Mills back and likely would not use him this weekend, although he does expect to have him back for the playoffs.
Pub Date: 9/28/96