The physical condition of Orioles outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds has improved enough that he's begun exercises to build up strength in his back. The date for his return to the active roster remains uncertain, but club officials are encouraged by his progress.
Hammonds went on the disabled list June 6, retroactive to June 2, with recurring muscle spasms in his back. He performed some exercises for the first time Wednesday and may do so again today, said trainer Richie Bancells. Hammonds was given yesterday off.
"We expect him to be able to move along quicker now. All the spasms are gone. It's just a matter of how he feels. We may be getting close," Bancells said.
Hammonds would only say, "it's improving."
Bancells said the spasms were strong enough to strain a muscle. "And they weren't just in one area. They were all over."
Another injured Oriole, pitcher Scott Kamieniecki, also has began taking small steps toward an eventual return. He played catch in the outfield Wednesday for the first time since going on the DL May 30, retroactive to May 23, with stiffness in his neck, a condition that the club later learned was due to a pinched nerve.
Kamieniecki threw for about 10 minutes and said he will repeat the process every other day to keep his arm and shoulder in shape during an otherwise inactive period. He has been receiving daily treatments.
"It's the very beginning of the starting process of getting back on the mound," he said. "I didn't expect it to hurt because it didn't before when I threw like that. It won't give us any feedback on how I'm doing."
No interest in Witt
Though the Orioles continue to seek ways to improve their pitching staff, assistant general manager Kevin Malone said they have no interest in Texas right-hander Bobby Witt, who was designated for assignment this week.
"We'd like to upgrade, but at this time we think we'd probably prefer to go in a different direction," he said.
Manager Ray Miller said Witt's availability caused him to "wrinkle my eyebrows a little bit," but a 7.66 ERA had the manager reaching for his nose. "They're really hurting for pitching and they move him. That's always a scary sign," he said.
Rookie pitcher Radhames Dykhoff returned to Double-A Bowie this morning, taking along some mementos from his two weeks in the majors.
Dykhoff, a surprise call-up when reliever Bobby Munoz was returned to Triple-A Rochester, had a few baseballs signed and snapshots taken with his Orioles teammates. His cousin, pitcher Sidney Ponson, peered through the camera lens yesterday while Dykhoff stood in front of his locker with an arm draped around Hammonds' shoulder.
"It's for my parents. They want to see me in this uniform," said Dykhoff, the fourth Aruban player to make it to the majors, along with Ponson, Bowie outfielder Eugene Kingsale and former Orioles farmhand Calvin Maduro. He was optioned back to Bowie when reliever Terry Mathews came off the DL.
"My family was shocked," he said. "They never thought I was going to be here this soon."
Dykhoff pitched one inning, against Atlanta, allowing two runs and getting hit on the shin by a line drive. But if his taste of big-league life didn't qualify as a mouthful, it also wasn't bitter.
"It's been a good experience for me. They've treated me good. I got along with everybody," he said.
The empty locker in the visitor's clubhouse could have belonged only to former Orioles closer Randy Myers. The boots, flannel shirt and camouflage hat were dead give-aways. So were the bottled waters stashed on the top shelf, enough to fill a small swimming pool.
Myers confirmed the obvious seconds later, a sock tied around his head and a water jug tucked under one arm as he passed by after working out. It was Myers' first visit to Baltimore since signing with the Blue Jays as a free agent and ending a two-year stay with the Orioles.
He downplayed the return to Camden Yards, saying the only difference was the longer walk in the opposite direction going to the clubhouse. But he also paid tribute to the fans here. "There was great support. It was always really nice coming to a sold-out stadium. It was enjoyable to have the stands full."
Myers had two saves in the three-game series between these clubs last week at Toronto's SkyDome. His three blown saves in 21 chances this year are two more than he had last season.
Lessons not learned
Hearing how former Orioles pitcher Rick Krivda was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians this week, then traded to the Cincinnati Reds, brought back some memories for Miller. Frustrating ones.
"He throws so many pitches up in the strike zone. He's so one-dimensional," Miller said, adding how he and pitching coach Mike Flanagan had worked countless hours trying to get Krivda to make some changes in his approach.
"We tried to get him to do something to be more effective against lefties; drop down, change your arm angle. But he just continued to throw the same way," Miller said.
"The problem when you're so effective in Triple-A is when you come to the big leagues you don't want to make any changes. But obviously the step from Triple-A to the big leagues is more than a step. It's Mount Rushmore."
Krivda had been claimed off waivers by the Indians during spring training. He was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 appearances.
Miller said it was difficult for him to pinch-hit for Eric Davis against New York right-hander Mariano Rivera on Wednesday, but he made the move mostly because right-handed batters were 3-for-40 against the Yankees closer this year. Newly-acquired Rich Becker popped up.
Pub Date: 6/19/98