SEATTLE -- Orioles pitching hit a new depth yesterday when " the staff was officially classified as day-to-day.
Giving the most obvious sign that the situation has deteriorated from one of concern to panic, the Orioles yesterday activated reliever Terry Mathews from the disabled list one day after insisting he would participate in an extended rehab program once the club returned from its eight-game road trip.
Mathews received a 9: 30 a.m. wake-up call from manager Ray Miller notifying him of the move. To create roster room, Monday night's starter, Nerio Rodriguez, was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Rodriguez's turbulent 1 1/3 -inning outing in a 12-4 beating forced the club to alter its plans. Even with the rotation unsettled because of Jimmy Key's presence on the disabled list and the uncertain status of Mike Mussina (broken nose) and Scott Kamieniecki (stiff neck), Miller saw enough of the rookie right-hander to discard him as a solution.
"I was surprised as anybody," said Mathews, who was put on the disabled list May 3 retroactive to April 30 because of inflammation in his right wrist. "I had no idea this was going to happen. None. To be honest, I still have no idea what my velocity is or what kind of control I'll have."
The Orioles remain short of bullpen help. Arthur Rhodes is dealing with a muscle pull in his side that has limited him to two or three appearances per week. To ease the crunch, Miller may encourage Alan Mills to appeal his two-game suspension that is scheduled to begin Friday.
Miller and general manager Pat Gillick spoke to Mathews before Monday's game to gain his permission for an extended rehab assignment. Mathews would have pitched a simulated game at Camden Yards before making at least two starts at Double-A Bowie or Single-A Frederick. Until yesterday, the club thought him at least two weeks away from returning.
"The situation changed and you have to change with it," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan.
Since going on the DL, Mathews (0-1, 8.10 ERA) has thrown four times in the bullpen but last faced a batter when White Sox first baseman Wil Cordero hit a grand slam against him April 29.
Rodriguez didn't even get the frequent flier points. He accompanied the Orioles to Baltimore.
Miller was particularly incensed when he found out that Rodriguez had thrown an intensive side session two days before Monday's outing. "He was throwing 87 or 88. He was at 92 and 93 when we sent him back. I don't know what's going on down there," said Miller, indicating he would pursue the matter further.
Alomar denies he wants to go
Second baseman Roberto Alomar said quotes attributed to his agent, Jaime Torres, by a Canadian newspaper do not accurately represent his feelings about pending free agency and his desire to leave Baltimore.
The Toronto Globe and Mail quoted Torres as saying his client has become disenchanted with the Orioles' meltdown and would like nothing more than to return to the Blue Jays, where he played from 1991-95. "Obviously, Robbie would be happier with a more competitive team than Baltimore," Torres said.
The paper quoted Torres saying: "My personal feeling, knowing how much he loved the city and the fans, is that the Jays would be his first choice. He could walk into any place in Toronto and would feel at home. That hasn't happened at Baltimore."
Alomar said he spoke with Torres yesterday and described the )) article as "garbage."
Alomar insists he is not lobbying to go anywhere after this season and referred to his problems with Toronto media before signing a three-year, $18 million contract with the Orioles in December 1995.
However, Alomar has become disenchanted with what he terms "rumors" about possible trades involving him and/or Rafael Palmeiro. "I've never said I don't like playing in Baltimore. I love it there. I don't know where this comes from, but I can tell you it's not accurate."
The streak will go on
Suggestions that third baseman Cal Ripken's consecutive-games streak will soon end were universally refuted within the clubhouse. Miller reiterated that any decision would be made by Ripken barring injury or total loss of production.
"I firmly believe when it comes time to end the streak -- unless it's due to injury -- it will be Cal who ends it," Miller said. "He's the consummate professional, and if he ever got to the point where he really felt he was hurting the ballclub, he would probably take a day off. I think he's earned that right."
Ripken discarded recent print and broadcast reports that he will sit soon, perhaps within the next three weeks. "I'm not going to give much thought to things that show up in the paper," Ripken said before going 3-for-4 to finish off a 5-for-8 series that included his fourth home run. "If there ever was an issue, I would expect to hear it from people who are in a position to make those decisions."
Miller added that criticism about Ripken's travel arrangements is unjustified. Because of crushing public attention, Ripken still stays in a separate hotel from the rest of the team.
"I'd say spend one day in Cal's life and see how many autographs he's got wherever he goes," Miller said. "The man almost has to live like a recluse to have any kind of privacy whatsoever. It doesn't bother me. Cal's always on time, always busts his tail."
Davis receives 'Hutch'
Right fielder Eric Davis received one of baseball's most prestigious off-field awards last night when he was presented with the Hutch Award, given annually to a player who has overcome adversity with courage, honor and dignity. Davis, recognized in Seattle last winter, accepted the trophy before catching the first pitch thrown by four children who have fought cancer.
Davis had colon cancer surgery last June.
The award is named for former Cincinnati Reds manager Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer.
Around the horn
All-time No. 32s: Ripken got his 1,475th RBI, tying Billy Williams for 32nd on the career list. Joe Carter hit his 382nd home run, tying him with Jim Rice and Frank Howard for 32nd on the career list. Miller, a native son of Takoma Park, will be honored Saturday morning at Opening Day for the Takoma Park Babe Ruth Baseball and Softball Association at Ed Wilhelm Field. Orioles designated hitters are batting .306 (63-for-206) compared .250 last season.
Pub Date: 5/27/98