DeShields' injury hastens Hairston's recall; Rookie second baseman goes 1-for-4 in return


When Jerry Hairston singled to lead off the first inning of Triple-A Rochester's game against Syracuse on Friday, he noticed coach Dave Cash signaling for him to come out. Hairston ignored the gestures, assuming Cash was joking. He later scored and returned to the dugout, where he found out it was no joke.

Hairston had an appointment in Baltimore.

The Orioles recalled the rookie infielder for a second time because of the uncertain status of Delino DeShields, who continues to be hampered by a sore quadriceps. DeShields was examined on Friday and didn't arrive at Camden Yards until around 5: 30 p.m. Once club officials learned he needed to be scratched from the lineup, general manager Frank Wren placed a call to Syracuse.

Hairston rented a car and drove to Baltimore, arriving here around 2 a.m. He started at second base yesterday, going 1-for-4 with an RBI in the Orioles' 3-1 victory over Cleveland.

He has a tough act to follow: Himself.

Hairston made quite a splash during a 25-game stint with the club while DeShields was on the disabled list from June 22 to July 23 with a strained hamstring. He batted .277 with two homers and seven RBIs, proved above-average defensively and quickly became a fan favorite.

Deciding it was more important for him to play every day, the Orioles returned Hairston to Rochester when DeShields was activated. Manager Ray Miller warned against Hairston getting a case of 'big league-itis" and not continuing to do the things that earned his first promotion. Hairston eased those concerns by hitting .333 with 13 doubles.

"Anytime you're up here in the big leagues, it's always disappointing to go back down," he said. "It hurt a little bit, but at the same time you've got to block it out. I really focused and said, 'I'm here and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm going to try to help Rochester win ballgames.' "

How much DeShields can help the Orioles is unknown. He was able to pinch hit Friday and finished the game at second, but continues to feel restricted.

"Delino's concerned about the thigh. The power's not back in it," Miller said. "He's frustrated because he goes to take a step and says he's not quick enough. He said, 'I'm not catching balls I should catch.' He's felt it pretty much the whole year, but in the last week or two it's gotten worse. He's been told there's a weakness in the quad and it needs to be built up."

Rhodes still out

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes wasn't available again yesterday because of a bruised left index finger. He's pitched only once since being hit on the hand by a line drive on Aug. 22, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

"I'm told he's still out and day-to-day," Miller said.

If healthy, Rhodes would have been used in the seventh inning of Friday's game to turn around switch-hitters Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar. Instead, Miller went with right-hander Al Reyes, who surrendered a three-run homer to Alomar. With the bullpen still short, the club wanted to bring up Gabe Molina from Triple-A Rochester after Friday's game, but discovered he had thrown two innings that night.

Alomar praises '98 infield

The current edition of Sports Illustrated wonders whether the New York Mets' infield is the best ever. It offers up eight other contenders for that debate, the only one from the last 16 years being none other than the 1998 Orioles.

"We had a great infield last year," said second baseman Alomar. "We were going through so many negative things in Baltimore, because the team was losing. The good things we did were never mentioned. We played great defense the whole year. That was something that was never mentioned."

Just as first baseman Rafael Palmeiro is putting up big numbers in Texas, Alomar could finish with a career year for the Indians. Both are candidates for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, as Alomar is hitting .331 with career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (105).

Alomar's bat failed him in yesterday's loss at Camden Yards, but he made sparkling defensive plays on Jeff Conine in the fourth inning and Brady Anderson in the seventh. He delivered a 7-6 win Friday night, when he became the first player in the 99-year history of the Indians' franchise to collect 20 home runs, 100 runs scored, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases.

The presence of his brother Sandy surely aided Cleveland's signing of Alomar in the off-season, and the irony of Roberto's big campaign has been that injuries have limited the catcher to only 22 games. The fact that Sandy Alomar could be activated as soon as today delighted his younger brother.

"When you need advice, or you want support, what's better than your brother's?" Roberto Alomar said. "Even though he's been injured, he always goes to the game. We always talk about the game of baseball. "My main goal is to play with him in the playoffs."

Surhoff is DH again

B. J. Surhoff was used as the designated hitter for the fourth consecutive game after making 125 starts in left field.

Surhoff's average had dipped to .315, but he's 5-for-13 with two RBIs and three runs scored in the past three games.

"I want to freshen him up," Miller said, "and he's had a little side or hip strain. It's something he's always dealt with. He's swinging the bat good and he wants to play, so I said, 'Why don't we DH you for a couple days?' "

Justice starts sitting

Cleveland outfielder David Justice dropped his appeal and began serving a three-game suspension yesterday for his part in Tuesday's brawl with the Anaheim Angels.

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