Though not regarded as seriously as Cal Ripken's back, second baseman Delino DeShields is contending with some soreness in his hip that led manager Mike Hargrove to keep him out of the lineup yesterday against the Boston Red Sox.
DeShields hasn't looked as comfortable with his movements in recent days compared to earlier in the season, when he got off to a torrid start. He is batting .359 (14-for-39) in his last 10 games, but is in the midst of a 1-for-14 stretch.
Because the club is off today, DeShields is getting a two-day break before beginning a six-game road trip that starts tomorrow night in Anaheim before moving on to Texas.
"This gets his legs back under him," Hargrove said. "As far as I know he's OK. His hip's bothering him a little bit, but I don't think it's anything to be concerned about. These two days will be good for him."
DeShields went 1-for-4 on Saturday while batting third for the first time since May 29, 1996. The lineup change included B.J. Surhoff dropping to sixth, but he returned to the third slot yesterday and was 0-for-4. Surhoff has 11 hits in his last 75 at-bats.
Mark Lewis, who had started the last two games at third base in place of Ripken, took DeShields' spot in the infield. Ryan Minor started at third after being used as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner since being called up from Triple-A Rochester on May 3.
"I had told [Minor] not to lose patience and to keep working hard," Hargrove said, adding that Minor probably will start at third tomorrow night.
Maduro on DL; Reyes called
In a curious roster move, the Orioles placed reliever Calvin Maduro on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right elbow, retroactive to Saturday, and recalled Al Reyes from Triple-A Rochester.
Maduro had strung together three straight scoreless appearances before allowing four runs in the ninth inning Friday.
He said the elbow began to bother him last week in Toronto, and worsened when he snapped off a curveball in the eighth inning of Thursday's game against Boston. He pitched again the next night and was bombarded, leaving his ERA at 9.41.
Before being called into Hargrove's office and given the news, Maduro said, "It's nothing to really be concerned about. The doctor just told me to get some rest and it should be fine for Tuesday."
Reyes won't return to the Orioles on a roll. He pitched two-thirds of an inning yesterday, allowing five runs (four earned) and four hits, walking two and striking out two in a 12-3 loss to Toledo. Having moved into the closer's role, he was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA and two saves in nine games.
Once uncertain whether Will Clark would be ready to come off the disabled list on Thursday, the Orioles have been encouraged in recent days by his response to increased activity.
Clark has been running the past two days, and taking batting practice the last four. Barring a setback or club decision to proceed with more caution, he should be activated in time for Thursday's game in Texas, where he played for five seasons before signing with the Orioles as a free agent.
"From what I understand from our trainer, Richie Bancells, he's on track to be ready, but we'll have to wait and see," Hargrove said.
Said Clark: "I've had two good days of running. If I keep progressing for the next four days, I'm hoping to be right on time. First, you rehab the injury. Second, you get the strength back. The hard part's getting the strength back."
Explaining after Saturday's game how he bounces back from adversity, reliever Mike Trombley said he's able to put a bad outing behind him the next day. The disappointment eats at him for a short time, but he won't carry it around. That's no way to regain your balance.
Trombley seemed in pretty good spirits yesterday, though reminders of the three eighth-inning home runs he allowed were everywhere. They showed up in print, and in the questions that came as Trombley stood at his locker.
"Other than looking at the headlines, yeah, I've been able to move on," he said. "You have to look at it like every day's a test; see who's the toughest. It's easy to pitch when things are going good. Let's see who can pitch when things aren't going too good. That's what we're all here for. You have good days and bad days.
"I have no problem going back out there and seeing what happens. It's no big deal."
Trombley's collapse on Saturday, when he turned a 1-0 lead into a 5-1 loss in a span of seven pitches, represented his fourth blown save. He's allowed seven home runs in 15 innings, compared to 15 homers in 87 1/3 innings last season with the Minnesota Twins.
"It seems like every swing of the bat when I make a mistake, it goes out of the ballpark lately," he said. "You can't take it too seriously either way. There are times I've thrown the ball right down the middle and the guy's hit a chopper back to me, and I've walked off the field going, 'How does that happen?' In the same respect, every ball I threw [Saturday] went over the plate and flew out of the park."
Hargrove said he's not sure if it's in Trombley's best interest to immediately put him into another situation like Saturday, but added, "My sense is that, yeah, I will."
The Orioles began yesterday with a 5.92 ERA, the highest among clubs in the American League. Ten runs later, it was 6.03. Only two teams had given up more home runs than the Orioles' 58."Bad pitches," Hargrove said, offering a succinct explanation. "I don't think we're tipping pitches, I don't think that people have spies stealing signs. We're just making bad pitches."
Mike Mussina allowed his 13th and 14th home runs yesterday, the most in the AL. He gave up 16 in 203 1/3 innings last season.
Other culprits include Sidney Ponson (nine), Maduro (seven), Trombley (seven) and Jason Johnson (six), who tossed seven shutout innings on Saturday. Closer Mike Timlin has served up three homers in 9 2/3 innings.
"When you pitch up in the zone in the middle of the plate, that has a tendency to happen," Hargrove said.
Around the horn
The Orioles are 29,369 ahead of last year's attendance total after 18 home dates. They're averaging 42,116 fans per game, the first time they've led the majors in that category this late in the season. ... Albert Belle's hitting streak ended at nine games.