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Lefty vs. lefty all right with Alomar Johnson, injury prevents switch against Castillo

CHICAGO — CHICAGO -- Strange circumstances give rise to strange sights. Locked in a battle of attrition, the Orioles watched switch-hitter Roberto Alomar hit left-handed against left-handed reliever Tony Castillo in the ninth inning.

Alomar remains limited by a shoulder strain suffered last weekend. The injury behind his left shoulder prevents him from making a full extension with the arm, which has kept Alomar from swinging right-handed and thereby facing left-handed pitching. However, with bodies at a premium in a scoreless game, manager Davey Johnson did not counterpunch when Chicago White Sox manager Terry Bevington rushed Castillo into the game after Alomar appeared as a pinch hitter.

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"It's no big deal," Alomar said. "It's not the first time I've done it. That's what the situation was. I can handle it if I have to."

Alomar popped to third base against Castillo and reappeared in the 10th to strike out against right-handed reliever Roberto Hernandez. Alomar is not expected to repeat yesterday's feat. Johnson has indicated Jeff Reboulet will continue to face left-handed pitching until Alomar's condition improves.

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Johnson estimates it will take a week. "It's not forever. It should be OK in four or five days," said Alomar. "It's not going to do me any good to try and play [against left-handers] with my shoulder like this. There's a reason I bat right-handed against them."

Because of a sore left ankle, Alomar was struggling against left-handed pitching even before injuring his shoulder.

He is hitting .333 with six home runs, a .428 slugging percentage and 22 RBIs left-handed; he's .218 with no homers, a .236 slugging percentage and two RBIs in 55 right-handed at-bats.

Rhodes glad about rebound

Arthur Rhodes arrived at Comiskey Park a happy man. Friday night he appeared in a game for the first time since May 25 and gave a rousing performance, striking out four while allowing only one hit in two innings.

"I needed a road map out there," quipped Rhodes, who had been checked by a conspiracy of poor weather, a sore left knee and improper game situations.

Rhodes reported no residual pain in the knee that has given him trouble since spring training. In hindsight, he says it played a part in a string of poor appearances. Rhodes had allowed runs in six of his last eight outings before Friday.

"It was bothering me but I felt I could pitch with it," he said. "When they gave me some time off, I didn't argue. But I didn't know it would be this long."

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Still waiting on Davis

Doctors at University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins continue to wait for indications on whether Eric Davis will need surgery to remove an abdominal abscess or if more conservative measures will be sufficient.

Davis has been off antibiotics since Thursday and will be examined further on Monday to determine if a different approach is warranted. Davis has steadfastly fought the idea of surgery, which would keep him out of the lineup another six to eight weeks, while a number of doctors have suggested the procedure earlier than later.

Painful day

Besides losing their second straight game, the Orioles also suffered several injuries. First baseman Rafael Palmeiro took a pitch to the right ribs from Wilson Alvarez in the fourth inning. He remained in the game but wore a bruise the rest of the day. Reliever Armando Benitez strained his neck on a strikeout pitch to Albert Belle in the ninth. Johnson and trainer Richie Bancells went to the mound but Benitez successfully lobbied to remain in the game. He got a double-play grounder from Harold Baines but is listed as day-to day.

Left-handed reliever Jesse Orosco took the day's hardest shot when Ray Durham led off the ninth inning with a drive off Orosco's right ankle. The ricochet carried to second base. Orosco faced one more hitter -- Dave Martinez singled also -- before giving way to Benitez. Durham's shot caught his ankle bone flush. Orosco downplayed the injury, but team personnel were waiting to see his condition today.

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Orioles sign three

The Orioles have signed three more draft picks -- all junior college players -- bringing their count to four. Seventh-round pick Raymond Casteel, a right-handed pitcher from Northeast Texas Community College; 15th-rounder Jordan Romero, a right-handed pitcher from De Anza (Cal.) Junior College; and 16th-round pick Cliff Wilson, a third baseman at Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist Junior College, all agreed to terms. The Orioles have 34 players still unsigned, including first-rounder Jayson Werth.

Around the horn

The Orioles have rescheduled their exhibition against Triple-A Rochester for July 10 immediately following the All-Star break. The game originally was scheduled for Thursday but was postponed to accommodate a makeup against the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles hadn't allowed more than four runs in an inning through 52 games. However, Friday night's five-run fifth inning off Scott Erickson marked the second time in as many games they have surrendered a five-spot. White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas was absent from yesterday's lineup after suffering a pulled abdominal muscle Friday night. Thomas is listed as day-to-day. The Big Hurt was hitting .483 with three doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs over the previous seven games. For the Sox, the timing was especially bad given Thomas' success against starter Scott Kamieniecki. Thomas is a career .455 hitter (7-for-15) with two home runs and five RBIs against him. Red Sox manager Jimy Williams moved left-hander Chris Hammond (3-3, 6.20 ERA) back into the bullpen; Vaughn Eshelman will take his turn in one of the doubleheader games against Baltimore Tuesday. Eshelman (0-0, 5.79 in 12 appearances) has bounced between Boston and Triple A Pawtucket all season.

Pub Date: 6/08/97


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