Alomar arrives on crutches Slowly healing ankle seen as no threat to season


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Second baseman Roberto Alomar arrived in camp yesterday on crutches, saying that his sprained left ankle has been slow in healing. But if he's going to be injured, this is the best possible time.

Alomar went for a magnetic resonance imaging exam late yesterday afternoon, so that team doctors can identify the exact nature of his injury. General manager Pat Gillick said at 8 last night that he hadn't heard the results.

However, Alomar expects to be back long before the start of the regular season. He has to sit out the first five regular-season games anyway, thanks to an American League suspension from last year's spitting incident.

Orioles manager Davey Johnson said: "He's probably not going to be able to do a whole lot for two weeks. But, if anybody on this ballclub could get ready to play [in a short time], it would be Robbie."

Trainer Richie Bancells was asked if the injury in any way threatened to keep Alomar out of the lineup in April. "Oh, no," he said, scoffing. "No, it won't take that long. I'm going to take my time with it. We can be patient."

Alomar said he initially sprained his ankle slipping at home on Feb. 10. Two days later, he aggravated the injury in a charity basketball game. "I went up for a shot," said Alomar, "and when I came down I stepped on top of [an opponent's] foot. I knew it was hurt, but I knew right away it wasn't broken."

Alomar has a stipulation in his contract against playing basketball, Gillick confirmed.

Gillick indicated he'll speak to Alomar about this, but the GM added, "I think he learned his lesson."

Alomar on ump: 'It's over'

Alomar downplayed all questions relating to the incident with umpire John Hirschbeck. "I said what I had to say about that whole situation," said Alomar. "The only thing I can say about that is, it's over, I don't want to talk about it."

Alomar, revered in his homeland of Puerto Rico and cheered as he played winter ball, isn't sure what treatment he'll get from fans this summer.

"I don't know," he said, "we'll just have to wait and see."

Blisters block Minor shot

Blisters were never a problem when Ryan Minor played basketball, but he's a baseball player now and he's got a bandage wrapped across his left palm. "I've been coming in here early and hitting a lot," he said. "My hands got wet, and then I got the blisters."

Minor concentrated on his basketball career the last few years and never built up the calluses on his hands. But last month, he left his team in the Continental Basketball Association to take a shot at developing his baseball career.

The Orioles believe Minor could develop into a good third base prospect. But Minor, 6 feet 7, must learn how to hit in spite of long arms that were good for basketball, and not necessarily so for baseball.

Sometimes the long limbs can be a hindrance, Minor agreed, "if you have a long swing. It works against you sometimes, but if you can adjust and shorten your swing "

Around the horn

Right-hander Alvie Shepherd, the Orioles' No. 1 pick in 1995, straightened out his mechanics while playing winter ball in Australia. "I'm not twisting," he said. "I'm more squared up." Shepherd likely will start the year at Double-A Bowie. New pitching coach Ray Miller implored his pitchers yesterday, "Whatever you're going to throw, throw it for a strike. It takes courage."

Johnson continues to report no injuries among his pitchers, no setbacks, no slackers. "Nobody wants to miss anything," said Johnson. "Nobody wants to fall behind. We've got too many good players here. It's very competitive, and that's a great situation to have." Alomar teamed with Cal Ripken last year in the middle of the diamond, and this year he'll work alongside Mike Bordick. "He's a really good shortstop," Alomar said. "He plays really good defense, and he can make a lot of plays. I think we're going to have a really good infield."

Spring break

What the Orioles did yesterday: Pitchers continued to build arm strength, throwing on the side, and those position players in camp took batting practice, fly balls and ground balls. New shortstop Mike Bordick and utility candidate Jeff Reboulet were taking grounders by 8 a.m.

What they'll do today: Many more position players are expected in camp today and tomorrow. There is still no sign of Orioles closer Randy Myers, who must report by Feb. 27, but unlike last year, Myers' absence doesn't seem like a big deal.

You know it's spring training when: With nothing better to do, managers, coaches, executives and writers stand around and watch pitchers throw off bullpen mounds, and try to elicit some meaning from it all. Former Orioles left-hander Mike Flanagan, now a consultant, downplays the significance of these sessions. "I've never seen a game won or lost in the bullpen," said Flanagan.

Pub Date: 2/19/97

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