O's eye weekend return for 'little sore' Baines Strained hamstring feels better than DH expected


The hamstring injury that forced Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines from Monday's game doesn't appear serious enough to keep him out for a prolonged period. Manager Ray Miller is hopeful that Baines will be available, at the latest, for the series in Montreal beginning Friday.

"There's no pain or anything, no discoloration," Miller said.

Baines strained his left hamstring while running out a double to right field. He grabbed the back of his leg just before sliding and stayed on the ground until being helped to the clubhouse by trainer Richie Bancells and third base coach Sam Perlozzo.

"It's a little sore," Baines said, adding that his leg felt better this morning than he had expected.

"I was running and I got a knot and it popped. I wish I could tell you [when he'll return]. I'm on a day-to-day basis. I've never had one. If I experienced it before I could give a better judgment. But all the tests that they've done say it's not as bad as they thought."

Baines, 39, will continue to ice his leg to reduce the inflammation. "That's about all you can do," he said.

Baines was 15-for-29 on the nine-game homestand that concluded last night, bumping his average to a team-leading .330.

Miller recently said that he wanted to get Eric Davis and Joe Carter in the lineup at the same time, but couldn't as long as Baines was swinging such a hot bat. Though these aren't the circumstances he had in mind, Miller was able to use Carter as his DH last night and start Davis in right field, batting second and third, respectively.

Rehab or return?

Right-hander Nerio Rodriguez threw in the bullpen again yesterday and probably will go on a rehab assignment before the club decides what to do with him.

Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since May 26 with tendinitis in his right shoulder. With his velocity improved and having a better feel for his slider, Rodriguez may have moved back into the Orioles' plans.

Miller said a decision hasn't been made on whether Rodriguez will join the active roster or head back to Triple-A Rochester, where he was 1-4 with a 5.47 ERA before making his second stop in Baltimore and winding up on the DL. The club apparently will wait until after his rehab.

"Maybe we'll get him to throw a couple innings twice and see how he does," Miller said.

In three appearances with the Orioles, including two starts, Rodriguez has allowed 10 runs and 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Drabek available

Starter Doug Drabek was listed among the Orioles' relievers last night. Miller said Drabek could give him an inning, the equivalent of throwing on the side, before making Sunday's start in Montreal.

"I hope I don't have to do that, but you never know," Miller said.

Drabek was scratched from last night's start because he still feels an occasional twinge in his chest from a strained muscle. He hasn't pitched since June 13 in Toronto, where he was injured while warming up and lasted just two innings.

"I wasn't concerned about him pitching so much as I was waiting four more days before he throws 80 or 90 pitches," Miller said.

This weekend will provide Drabek with his last chance to win a game this month. He's 0-2 with a 14.81 ERA in three starts after going 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA in May.

"It gets better every day," Drabek said of the injury. "Every once in a while I can feel it, but not like it was in the beginning."

Back to bench for Hoiles

Miller said he thought about starting catcher Chris Hoiles, who homered Monday for the first time since April 21, but decided against it. Instead, Lenny Webster made his 36th start, three fewer than Hoiles, catching Doug Johns.

In Miller's catching rotation, Hoiles will catch Pete Smith tonight in New York, and Webster will be behind the plate for Scott Erickson tomorrow.

"I'm trying to split it up equally. I think both play better when they're a little bit rested," said Miller, who got two sacrifice bunts from Webster last night. "You'd like to bring Hoiley right back today, but then again, I'd like to have him enjoy that game for a few hours."

Hoiles said he doesn't begrudge Webster any starts, "but I hate taking a day off."

'Definitely weird' reunion

Though he wasn't in the lineup again, Orioles outfielder Rich Becker said it was "definitely weird" to be playing opposite the team that designated him for assignment last week.

Becker was claimed off waivers by the Orioles after signing with the Mets over the winter and batting .190 in 49 games.

"I spent enough time there for it to be a little strange, especially so soon," he said.

Becker's playing time in New York picked up when Bernard Gilkey went on the disabled list, but not his production. "I went into a slump, and when he came back, all three of the guys kind of got hot," he said.

"There are no ill feelings or anything like that. Whoever we're playing, I want to win."

Around the horn

Roberto Alomar retained a slim lead (1,283,921 to 1,112,133) over the New York Yankees' Chuck Knoblauch in AL All-Star voting. Despite a cold April and May, Brady Anderson remained fifth in voting for outfielders directly ahead of three Yankees -- Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill and Darryl Strawberry. (AL voting, 4D) The Mets' 7-8-9 hitters went 8-for-10. B.J. Surhoff threw out Todd Pratt at the plate in the fourth inning for his eighth assist.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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