Orioles manager Ray Miller waited until shortly before game time yesterday to create the usual pairing of catcher Lenny Webster and starting pitcher Scott Erickson. Webster's status was questionable because of some tightness in his left calf that occurred after he beat out an infield hit early in Friday night's rain-soaked win.
Webster finished that game, then convinced Miller that he could return yesterday. Chris Hoiles would have started in Webster's place rather than Charlie Greene, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Friday.
"I contemplated catching Greene, but that wouldn't have been fair to Hoiley," Miller said.
Webster, who reached on another infield hit yesterday, made the choice insignificant. "It's been a little sore the last couple of days," he said. "I felt a slight strain on the infield hit [Friday], but I put a little heat on it and it's OK. No big deal."
Anderson still hurting
Miller addressed another injury yesterday, expressing doubt that center fielder Brady Anderson will be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible Tuesday. Anderson hit off a tee the past few days and told Miller he still feels the strain in his right shoulder, but also notices some improvement.
"In my mind, I'm not saying he'll be ready to go 100 percent," Miller said. "We have to find out something between now and then."
0-no, not again
Ten years have passed since the Orioles gained national attention by losing their first 21 games. It's an anniversary Mike Morgan gladly will let pass.
Morgan spent his only season with the Orioles in the grips of that historic start, part of a 10-team journey through the majors. He started yesterday for the Twins, feeling far removed from his days in Baltimore, which ended with his trade to Los Angeles the following season for outfielder Mike Devereaux. He had remained in the National League, away from any reminders, until signing with the Twins as a free agent over the winter and being reunited with hitting coach Terry Crowley, who held the same job with the Orioles that year.
"When I came here, we both kind of looked at each other and acted like we were putting duct tape on our mouths. Like, 'We don't remember that,' " said Morgan, who joins Philadelphia's Rex Hudler as the only active players drafted ahead of Cal Ripken in 1978. He also is one of only 17 players since the draft's inception in 1965 to go directly to the majors, debuting against the Orioles.
Morgan lost his first five decisions with the Orioles, racking up a 6.88 ERA in the process. He finished 1-6, his only win coming in relief. He also made two stops on the disabled list and had season-ending surgery in August to correct an abnormal bone growth in his right foot.
"It seems like that was forever ago," he said.
It was exactly 10 years ago yesterday that fans packed Memorial Stadium upon the team's return from Chicago. The Orioles won that night, improving their record to 2-23.
University of Maryland alumnus Eric Milton, who makes his sixth major-league start today for the Twins, said he's had requests for 62 tickets from family and friends. "I'd better get my checkbook out," he said.
Milton, 22, spent one season in the minors after being chosen by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 1996 draft. He was dealt to Minnesota over the winter along with three prospects for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.
After being told near the end of spring training that he had made the club, Milton checked the schedule to see if his turn in the rotation would fall during this series. The left-hander was relieved to find that it did, but hadn't counted on being opposed by Mike Mussina.
"I'm just trying to relax and not think about it. It's a big game, and when everybody in your family and your friends are watching, it adds a little more to it," he said.
Milton, whose parents drove 18 hours to Minnesota from their Pennsylvania home for his debut, started off 2-0 before losing his last two decisions.
Today's national anthem will be performed by Seattle resident Mark Reiman, who seven years ago was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Camden Yards is the fifth stop in his quest to sing at all 30 major-league ballparks this season, part of a campaign called "A Season of Hope" that helps raise awareness about the fatal neurological disease. The tour is sponsored by the National ALS Association and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, which makes the only FDA-approved drug for treatment of the disease.
"I decided early on it was crucial to focus on living with, not dying from, this disease," said Reiman, 42, a middle school teacher and father of two who already has performed in New York, Seattle, Kansas City and Boston. His next stop will be Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix.
Each club has designated one player as an ALS Ambassador during Reiman's visits. Appropriately, Ripken, who broke Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, will do the honors today. This provides a special thrill for Reiman and his 17-year-old son, Josh, a third baseman on his high school team.
"The news that Cal was willing to be the host player just about knocked us out," Reiman said.
Around the horn
Yesterday was Minnesota's first win at Camden Yards since 1996. Ripken hasn't committed an error in 59 chances, the only American League starting third baseman without one. Police arrested a male fan yesterday who got inside the right-field foul pole and climbed to the top during the middle innings, waving to the crowd before returning to the flag court. Right-hander Rocky Coppinger threw two more scoreless innings Friday in an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Fla., allowing no hits, walking one and striking out four. He's made two appearances since being shut down because of a strained shoulder.
Pub Date: 5/03/98