The latest health question to be raised on the Orioles' pitching staff concerns Terry Mathews, who has stepped up treatment on a sore right wrist that manager Ray Miller said could be the source of the reliever's faulty mechanics and stormy appearances.
Mathews has began icing the wrist before and after games, soaking it in the whirlpool and applying medication -- "just basically trying anything," he said.
The pain is confined to a circular area on top of the wrist, he said, and may be the reason his slider and sinker no longer have any bite. With his release point dropping, both pitches are staying up over the plate and getting crushed, leading to an 8.10 ERA in nine games.
Starter Mike Mussina is eligible to come off the disabled list and start tomorrow against the Minnesota Twins, and Mathews has become a candidate to replace him. He met with Miller and assistant general manager Kevin Malone before last night's game and also visited club orthopedist Michael Jacobs.
"I don't like his arm slot," Miller said. "A lot of times there's some minor thing bothering you, something physical. If you have any kind of physical problems, usually the first thing that's affected is movement and the second thing is control. The velocity can stay the same because you can cheat and put more effort into it, but the ball doesn't go where you want."
Mathews had said before the team left for Chicago this week that he didn't feel any pain in the wrist when he pitched. The only discomfort came when he bent it too far in either direction. But two days after giving up a grand slam to Wil Cordero, the fourth homer he's allowed in 10 innings, Mathews suggested a possible link between his health and ineffectiveness.
"In the past I've gone through spells where I'm not throwing the ball well, but now it's just kind of lingering on longer," he said. "It would be nice to know for sure, to be able to find out if that's the problem and be able to cure it, but it's kind of hard when you're going out there every day trying to work on things to get people out.
"Hopefully, we'll let somebody else look at it and get a better idea what's going on and get everything straightened out."
Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks has told Mathews something doesn't look "physically correct" in his delivery. Miller has come to the same conclusion. He spoke with Mathews for about an hour on the flight back from Chicago.
"Something will come about shortly. I definitely think getting his arm in the right spot would help," Miller said.
"Nobody in the world feels any worse than Terry Mathews about where that 0-2 pitch went that [Cordero] hit out. And nobody in the world is trying harder. I think there's a solution to his mechanics."
Charlton: Pitching ugly
Left-hander Norm Charlton apparently has convinced Miller that he can pitch despite peering through two swollen, purple eyes -- the result of a fractured nose suffered when hit by a Frank Thomas line drive Wednesday.
"[Thursday], I wouldn't have used him," Miller said, "but the sucker went out there and he ran and threw. He came in and said, 'Let's go.' He's kind of hard to look at, but he's ready to go. He's a tough kid."
Charlton said his vision and breathing aren't restricted, and the only pain he feels is when he sneezes. "I sneezed [Thursday] night and wanted to jump off my balcony. But it doesn't hurt when I cough or throw or run," said Charlton, who warmed up in the eighth inning. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm ready to pitch."
Charlton is taking antibiotics and some good-natured ribbing.
"Jesse [Orosco] said, 'You look better today than you did yesterday. Come to think of it, you look better today than you did the day before, too.' I guess with his timeless wisdom, he would know."
Around the horn
Ex-Orioles prospect Alex Ochoa had been 8-for-8 lifetime with four RBIs against Doug Drabek until grounding out in the second inning. First base umpire Dave Phillips was scratched because of a stomach virus. Twins' Todd Walker has hit safely in 14 of 15 FTC games. The Orioles signed two pitchers to Triple-A contracts who haven't been in the majors since 1995: Steve Ontiveros, 37, and Jim Converse, 26. Paul Molitor is hitting .173 (9-for-52) in his last 12 games.
Pub Date: 5/02/98