ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Second baseman Roberto Alomar will become eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but it appears doubtful that his strained groin will be sufficiently healed to enable him to return that soon.
"He has come along with no setbacks," manager Davey Johnson said yesterday, "but he may not be ready by the 15th day."
Johnson said he is hopeful that Alomar may be back in a matter of days after that, but there is no reason to rush him. Utility man Jeff Reboulet has filled in very well in Alomar's absence, coming into last night's game with an eight-game hitting streak.
In the nine games since Alomar went down, Reboulet has hit .371 (13-for-35) with four doubles, but he knows that he is just buying time until Alomar returns for the stretch drive.
"Every baseball player likes to play," Reboulet said, "but I know what my role it. This is part of my job, playing when somebody's hurt."
No one, however, could have expected him to step right in and produce at the plate. He is on the club because of his defensive versatility, but his offensive production has helped temper what could have been a huge loss.
"I think it helped that I was starting to get some at-bats at that time," he said. "I [already] was starting to feel a little bit better at the plate."
Reboulet's offensive roll actually began before he entered the lineup full time. He has hit safely in 14 of the past 15 games in which he has had a plate appearance, raising his average to .254. First-round draft choice Darnell McDonald held a news conference yesterday in Denver to answer questions about his decision to forgo a college football and baseball career to sign with the Orioles.
General manager Pat Gillick and scouting director Gary Nickels traveled to Denver to take part, but Gillick was back at Anaheim Stadium just a few hours later to watch last night's game.
McDonald will travel to Baltimore to meet the local media this week, then go on to Sarasota, Fla., to spend the final weeks of the minor-league season with the Orioles' Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate.
"I think we're going to put him on a fast track and I can't see any reason he can't be with the Orioles in a short period of time," Gillick said. "It all depends on his bat."
McDonald bypassed a chance to play football and baseball at the University of Texas to accept a $1.93 million signing bonus from the Orioles. Johnson shuffled the lineup again yesterday, treating Angels left-hander Chuck Finley to a batting order similar to the ones the Orioles have used against Seattle Mariners left-hander Randy Johnson.
B. J. Surhoff and Rafael Palmeiro were replaced in the lineup by Jeffrey Hammonds and Aaron Ledesma. Brady Anderson was the only left-handed hitter to face Finley, who now has nine victories in his past nine starts.
Ledesma, who had batted only seven times since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Rochester on July 15, made his first start as an Oriole and went 1-for-3.
Surhoff pinch hit for Ledesma in the ninth and walked. Palmeiro hit for Mike Bordick and popped out, extending his slump to 2-for-37.
No matter what happens today, the Orioles have weathered this three-week, 18-game stretch that included just three games at home, but Davey Johnson doesn't seem particularly surprised.
"There are some stretches in the season that are tougher than others," he said. "When you play good, you have a tough part of the schedule and you get through it. When you're going bad, it doesn't matter where you are. It's not like we've struggled on the road this year. We're 40-20."
Friday night in review
For those who didn't stay up late to watch the Orioles' 6-2 win Friday night:
Former Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray singled in the ninth inning to move into 10th place on the all-time hit list alongside Nap Lajoie.
The Orioles got even with Angels knuckleballer Dennis Springer, scoring five runs (four earned) against him in six innings. Springer came into the game with a 1.35 lifetime ERA vs. the Orioles.
Mike Mussina gave up three hits over 7 1/3 innings, and Randy Myers bailed the bullpen out of a jam in the ninth inning for his 33rd save.
Pub Date: 8/10/97