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Walton's future with O's looks shaky Calcium deposits found in outfielder's leg; Ripken escapes as fence gives way

THE BALTIMORE SUN

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Orioles have almost resigned themselves to the possibility that outfielder Jerome Walton has played his last game for the club.

Walton, disabled since April 25 with a strained left hamstring, underwent an examination by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., yesterday. The injury-prone outfielder was diagnosed as having calcium deposits within scar tissue attached to his adductor muscle. An injury to the same area limited him to 37 games last season with Atlanta.

The adductor is located near the groin. Inflammation of the region combined with Walton's hamstring problems slowed him to a crawl the week before he was placed on the disabled list.

Andrews and Dr. Bill Clancy have prescribed two weeks of therapy for Walton. At that time, manager Davey Johnson and general manager Pat Gillick indicated the club would have to look elsewhere if Walton has not recovered.

"The way I understand it, they're going to try a stretching Walton program over the next two weeks to see if he can get some elasticity," Johnson said. "If that doesn't work, that will probably be it for him because it will still be bothering him."

According to trainer Richie Bancells, the calcium deposits were so pronounced they could be felt during a routine examination.

Walton, 31, has never enjoyed an injury-free season since his 1989 rookie year. He was batting .440 in 25 at-bats before pulling up with the hamstring injury April 24. In one stretch he had reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances and hit safely in seven straight at-bats. "He couldn't stretch it out," said Bancells. "Hopefully, their program can help him."

Near-miss for Ripken

Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak was imperiled before last night's game when a crush of autograph-seekers forced a restraining fence to give way, sending several children tumbling over the fence and forcing Ripken to make a quick move to elude the crush of bodies.

The incident occurred while Ripken stood in the photographer's box beside the visiting dugout. The fence, which resembles a police barricade, toppled over when the fans' enthusiasm became a little much.

Standing nearby, Johnson may have been the most terrified. "That would be a heck of a way for me to lose my third baseman," he said.

Davis plays; Hammonds sits

After missing the four-game weekend series against Seattle, Eric Davis returned to the lineup as designated hitter. Davis entered the game hitting .395, good enough to be leading the American League except he lacks sufficient plate appearances. Davis left last Wednesday's game against Anaheim when he slightly strained his right hamstring running out an RBI double.

Davis went 1-for-3 with a double to extend his hot streak. He has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, batting .520 (26-for-50) over the span.

Meanwhile, the Orioles may wait until the upcoming two-game series in Anaheim to restore Jeffrey Hammonds to the lineup. Hammonds played the first two games against the Mariners, but aggravated a strained abdominal muscle.

Mills takes the hill

A week after believing his career could be over, Alan Mills threw from the mound before last night's game -- though he showed an unorthodox delivery.

Mills, disabled since April 10 with a pinched nerve in the left side of his neck, did not use a full windup. Instead, he was fed each ball by pitching coach Ray Miller, then went into his motion.

Mills continues to wait for nerves extending to his left arm to regenerate, a process doctors say could take up to six months.

Around the horn

Closer Randy Myers continues to insist he was injured during Saturday's loss to Seattle. However, he also continues to refuse disclosing exactly what the injury is. According to Myers, he should be completely recovered in "two to three weeks." Myers added he is reluctant to give away the injury "because then teams would try to take advantage of whatever it is. If it was a leg injury, they'd stand out there and bunt on me." Chris Hoiles returned as catcher after serving as DH for several days. Hoiles continues to recover from a deep bruise on his right forearm where he was hit by a pitch Thursday. He was hit two more times last night. Roberto Alomar went 0-for-4, ending his hitting streak at eight games. Oakland first base coach Brad Fischer was ejected for arguing a close call in the fifth inning. Relievers Arthur Rhodes and Shawn Boskie have surrendered as many home runs (10) in 35 innings as have starters Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson in 149 1/3 innings. Jose Canseco went 1-for-4, but did not strike out -- ending a streak of 11 straight games with at least one strikeout.

Pub Date: 5/13/97

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