SEATTLE -- Their top two affiliates done with playing, the Orioles likely finalized their September call-ups yesterday when they announced the recall of right-handed pitcher Chris Fussell and infielder P. J. Forbes from Triple-A Rochester and their intention to purchase the contracts of first baseman Calvin Pickering and second baseman Jerry Hairston from Double-A Bowie. The moves become effective when the club begins its final homestand Friday, according to club officials.
Since Pickering and Hairston are not now on the 40-man roster, the Orioles will have to clear space. To do so they may place pitcher Scott Kamieniecki and third baseman/outfielder Willis Otanez on the 60-day emergency list.
Kamieniecki will be further examined next Sunday for a bulging disk near his neck that will require surgery Sept. 15. Otanez suffered a fractured left wrist in his second major-league start Aug. 25 and will wear a cast for the rest of the season.
Of the four promoted, manager Ray Miller hinted that Hairston could receive the most time. Only 22, Hairston began the season as Frederick's shortstop but shifted to second base when he was elevated to Bowie. Pessimistic about re-signing pending free agent Roberto Alomar, the Orioles are willing to consider Hairston as a possible alternative if Alomar leaves as expected.
"I'd like to get a look at him," Miller said. "There may be days he plays second base and you use Robbie as designated hitter."
Bowie third baseman Ryan Minor was noticeably absent from the moves. According to Miller, Minor has contended with a wrist injury in the latter stages of the season and will be examined further next week. Minor, the presumptive successor to Cal Ripken at the position, enjoyed a strong spring training but an uneven season.
Miller insisted that any possible controversy surrounding a possible start for Minor over Ripken "had no part" in the decision not to promote Minor.
Miller made clear that he will not crimp Rafael Palmeiro's time at first base. Palmeiro has 41 home runs and 113 RBIs and could still achieve a 45-homer, 130-RBI season. Miller admits such considerations factor heavily into how he handles the season's final three weeks.
"It's a big, big advantage to see what the big leagues are like as opposed to making a team out of spring training," Miller said. "You see how big-league players do things. Travel, how to get to the ballpark all those things."
The Orioles previously promoted Otanez, outfielder Danny Clyburn, outfielder Eugene Kingsale, outfielder Lyle Mouton, pitcher Rocky Coppinger and catcher Charlie Greene.
Kingsale got his first major-league at-bat last night, striking out against Heathcliff Slocumb in the ninth inning. Greene made the last out, on a foul pop. Coppinger saw his first Orioles action of the season with 2 2/3 shutout innings.
For those expecting to see lots of young players the next few weeks, Miller reminded that the Orioles will likely broker the AL wild-card race between Boston and Toronto. "Everybody we'll see the last two weeks is still in it," Miller said. "It's unfortunate we had that [0-10] stretch. If we win just half of those games, we're right there."
Ripken still hitting
Cal Ripken's fourth-inning single gave him hits in 33 of his last 41 games. Ripken's four home runs this month are the most of any month this season.
Opponent: Oakland Athletics
Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Doug Johns (3-2, 4.31) vs. Athletics' Gil Heredia (3-0, 1.10)
Pub Date: 9/08/98