Workload wearing on Rhodes He's 'feeling it' after loss follows two 3-inning stints; lost bus adds to O's travails


NEW YORK -- Orioles catcher Lenny Webster pointed out after Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the New York Mets at Camden Yards that Arthur Rhodes appeared to be tired while getting raked in the seventh inning, a point the left-hander didn't dispute yesterday.

Rhodes is leading all American League relievers in innings pitched with 54. He entered Monday's game following a 1: 26 rain delay, and took the loss after allowing three runs and four hits in the seventh.

"I'm starting to feel it now," he said yesterday. "I've got to start doing some exercises on my arm and start running more. I've got to do a lot more now. If I hadn't been running or doing anything, I'd probably hurt my arm."

Rhodes had thrown three shutout innings two days earlier, and again two nights before that. With manager Ray Miller's makeshift rotation not consistently able to pitch deep into games, he's had little choice.

"He might be [tired], but he's got to be able to throw an inning or two every other day," Miller said.

Said Rhodes: "I can't pitch three innings and take one day off. I need to take at least two for my arm to bounce back."

Miller looking for help

Miller said he would feel more confident heading into the second half if the Orioles could add another starter and middle reliever, as they remain uncertain over the return of Jimmy Key and Scott Kamieniecki from injuries.

Miller can count on innings from Mike Mussina and Scott Erickson, and mostly has liked what he's seen from rookie Sidney Ponson. But Doug Johns struggled again with his location Tuesday and left in the fourth inning, and Pete Smith has a 9.64 ERA in three starts.

Doug Drabek, scratched from his last two starts because of a strained muscle in his chest, is scheduled to pitch Sunday in Montreal, which would put Johns back in the bullpen as the staff's only true long reliever. Miller brought up the possibility of trading for another club's fourth or fifth starter and putting him in the bullpen.

Miller also said it's "kind of 50-50" that he can count on Key to return from an inflamed left rotator cuff that landed him on the disabled list retroactive to May 21.

Key said last week that he'll soon need to air it out on the side to test the shoulder and determine how much longer he'll be out. Miller continues to wait for that time to come.

"I wish I knew. I wish I could plan on it. I assume sometime after the break," Miller said.

"And the other guy, I haven't heard anything," he said of Kamieniecki, on the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Nerio Rodriguez could offer assistance if his two rehab sessions go well. He's scheduled to throw two innings at Double-A Bowie tonight and two more Saturday before the club determines his status.

Directions, please

Yesterday's bus trip from downtown Manhattan to Shea Stadium became an odyssey for the Orioles' charter. After pulling away from the team hotel shortly after 4 p.m., the bus became stuck in traffic and then got tangled in a downpour that only aggravated the situation.

When the charter finally neared Flushing, the bus driver became disoriented and drove around the ballpark unable to find the proper turn. By the time the charter reached the parking lot at about 5: 45 p.m., police and television trucks had blocked the players' entrance. Players had to disembark in the middle of the parking lot and wade several hundred feet through fans, barricades and other obstacles.

Security, what security?

As if Miller hasn't been irritated enough by circumstances plaguing his team, he walked onto the field yesterday to discover fans roaming the area behind the batting cage, approaching players for autographs and creating chaos.

When Miller failed to receive assistance from security personnel, he began checking credentials himself and ordered a handful of frauds from the premises before Shea rent-a-cops were embarrassed into action.

"This is unbelievable," Miller said to no one in particular. "This is ------- unbelievable."

Baines in a pinch?

Miller was hopeful that Harold Baines would be able to pinch hit in one of these games before the club heads to Montreal. Trainer Richie Bancells told Miller that Baines' strained left hamstring is "much, much better" since he injured it Monday.

"Richie's pretty excited about it. So is Harold," Miller said.

"I told him I need to know when he can walk, limp or crawl to first base. That's all I care about."

Hundley on mend

New York's Todd Hundley, who hasn't started a game since Sept. 16 because of a right elbow injury that required reconstructive surgery, began a rehab assignment yesterday, going 0-for-4 with the Mets' Single-A Port St. Lucie, Fla., affiliate. Hundley, an All-Star catcher before the injury, will play mostly in the outfield when he returns after the All-Star break.

"Todd can play the outfield from what I've been told," said manager Bobby Valentine, who now has Mike Piazza behind the plate.

Hundley is expected to move up to Triple-A Norfolk before joining the Mets in the next three weeks.

Around the horn

It was the Orioles' first game in Shea Stadium against the Mets since losing Game 5 of the 1969 World Series. Hitting coach Rick Down stayed in Baltimore to be with his wife, who is hospitalized. Jeffrey Hammonds also didn't make the trip. Bancells said Hammonds, on the DL with what the club has termed a "nerve irritation" in his neck, flew to California to see his personal trainer. Shari Silver sang as far as the "broad stripes and bright stars" segment of the national anthem before the game and stopped. "I can't do this," she said and walked away to boos. The organist completed the song to cheers.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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