DeShields' leg woes traced to nerve; 2nd baseman to rejoin club, will need minor surgery; Mussina passes next test

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MINNEAPOLIS -- Having struggled with the unknown for almost two weeks, the Orioles have learned what they consider good news regarding second baseman Delino DeShields.

While nothing can be done about the condition before season's end, DeShields is suffering from an entrapment of a nerve in his right quadriceps that causes numbness. The Orioles concede the condition is limiting but only temporary. Manager Ray Miller, assistant general manager Bruce Manno and head trainer Richie Bancells met yesterday before explaining the injury to reporters.

"It's something that can be tended to with outpatient surgery," said Miller.

DeShields was examined Wednesday in Baltimore and will rejoin the club today. Miller said he will remain available for the remainder of the season but will likely concede significant time to rookie Jerry Hairston. DeShields has not played since contributing a pinch single last Monday against the Cleveland Indians.

The condition affects a sensory nerve, according to doctors. The entrapment causes an interruption in signals relayed to the brain. The result is a loss of sensation more so than pain.

According to Bancells, doctors believe the entrapment may be caused by scar tissue. The procedure for removal is considered minor.

The injury manifests itself through numbness that has limited DeShields' range at second base, inhibited his base-stealing ability and at times left him unsure of his physical condition. The second baseman disclosed his uncertainty to coach Sam Perlozzo in Detroit almost two weeks ago when it became clear ground balls were consistently handcuffing him. Miller noted the absence of a first step and DeShields' success on only 11 of 19 steal attempts.

Mussina progresses

Mike Mussina cleared a significant hurdle yesterday in his return from a severely bruised shoulder. After throwing three simulated innings including a warm-up and rests in between, Mussina said barring complications he should be able to start Tuesday against Oakland at Camden Yards. It will be his first start since being smoked behind his right shoulder Aug. 22 by a line drive from Chicago catcher Brook Fordyce.

Mussina threw from the bullpen mound on Tuesday for about eight minutes with nothing more than 75 percent effort. Yesterday he threw with greater purpose and was pleased to see the combination of movement and velocity he could generate while comfortable with his mechanics.

"I was able to get loose every time I got back up, which I thought was going to be the hardest thing to do," said Mussina. "That was encouraging."

Mussina threw 15 pitches in each simulated inning and expects to throw again tomorrow. Unless he receives negative feedback, Mussina will attempt to gain his 16th win next week with four starts remaining. Asked whether he anticipates starting on three days' rest as a means of reaching his first 20-win season, Mussina paused before answering, "That would mean I win each of my next four starts after this layoff. "

Reflections on Hunter

News of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter's death from Lou Gehrig's disease reached Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks as he was catching Mussina yesterday. A teammate of Hunter with the New York Yankees in 1976 and 1977, Hendricks remembered the pitching great as a down-to-earth friend who found much humor in life but a seriousness within his craft.

"It seems too often that bad things happen to very good people," said Hendricks, who most recently heard that Hunter had recovered from a recent fall related to his illness.

"I heard that he had come home and was getting along better. I had planned on calling him in the next day or two," Hendricks said.

Hunter and Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer were the dominant American League pitchers of the 1970s, combining for five Cy Young awards. "Whenever those guys hooked up you knew it was going to be 1-0 or 2-1," recalled Hendricks, the only man to catch both. "They were the best."

Around the horn

As expected, the Orioles activated reliever Jim Corsi from the disabled list yesterday. Corsi, sidelined by a strained hamstring, was summoned with two outs in the third inning to bail out rookie Matt Riley. Brady Anderson had three hits, and by going 5-for-7 in his last two games has lifted his average to .295. Mike Timlin is riding a string of 11 straight converted saves. The last of his eight blown saves came July 1. Timlin, who earned his 20th save last night, has allowed only one earned run in 17 appearances since July 6. Cal Ripken singled to left field to lead off the second inning, leaving him only 26 hits shy of 3,000. Ripken had another hit taken away by first baseman Ron Coomer in the third. In the seventh he passed Carl Yastrzemski for the all-time AL lead by grounding into his 324th double play. Hank Aaron is the major-league leader with 328 double plays. Anderson's 36th leadoff home run Wednesday may have gained him second place all time but left him in a different area code from New York Mets left fielder Rickey Henderson. Henderson, perhaps the greatest leadoff hitter ever, has 75.

Pub Date: 9/10/99

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