BOWIE -- The Orioles entered the second half of the season facing a massive recovery from a three-month nightmare in which almost nothing went right.
One of their starters, Scott Kamieniecki, is confronting a similar situation -- trying to return to normal one measured step at a time.
His comeback from a herniated disk continued last night at Prince George's Stadium when he pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Bowie Baysox and then said his stiff neck "still doesn't feel right."
It was the second Double-A Eastern League start for Kamieniecki and it was similar to his first last Thursday in New Britain when he went three innings, allowing six hits and three runs.
"He was OK in the first couple of innings, then he got tired and the neck stiffened," Bowie manager Joe Ferguson said of the initial start of Kamieniecki's rehabilitation.
Last night, Kamieniecki permitted two runs on four hits while throwing 48 pitches.
"It still gets tight," he said of the injury. "I don't know if it'll ever get to 100 percent. It's frustrating because the strength is not there."
Kamieniecki has been on the disabled list twice this season. He was placed there for the second time on May 30, making his last start on May 22, and went "six or seven weeks without doing anything."
He is scheduled to start again here Sunday against the New Haven Ravens.
There was some progress in his latest outing.
"I felt better physically," he said. "The last time I felt like I hadn't pitched in a year. My legs held up a little more. And I had more command, moving pitches around.
"After the first start, every muscle hurt. I even had trouble walking."
New Britain, the best team in the Eastern League, scored against him on a line drive home run by Dan Cey (son of former Dodger Ron Cey) in the third and a two-out double by Jacque Jones and a bloop single by Chad Moeller in the second.
Kamieniecki departed with the score tied, 2-2, thanks to a Baysox homer by hot-hitting Jim Foster (.400 average, six RBIs last week) against Joe Mays, who was making his Double-A debut.
New Britain went on to win the game, 5-4, on a three-run homer by Chad Allen off Chris Curtis in the fifth inning.
Kamieniecki hopes to advance to 70 to 75 pitches Sunday depending on how he feels in the aftermath of his latest appearance. He will continue to work out with Bowie while the Orioles are on the road.
The Rock Cats were eager to go against him, preferring his first pitch often.
"That's the minor leagues," Kamieniecki said. "These guys are young and aggressive and like to swing the bat."
Kamieniecki, 34, pointed out that the neck area "gets a little weak the more I throw. All I want is to be where I was, able to throw all my pitches all of the time."
The Orioles' recent surge has him encouraged, but not unduly so.
"It's a long season," he said. "It's been a good week and that's a good sign. You've got to start somewhere.
"Obviously, they're on their way to getting back into the race."
In between stints on the disabled list, Kamieniecki posted a 2-2 record with a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) with the Orioles.
Pub Date: 7/15/98