Texas return within range for Clark; DL stay near an end; Hairston to have surgery


ANAHEIM, Calif. - Injured first baseman Will Clark apparently will be ready to re-enter the starting lineup when he becomes eligible to leave the disabled list tomorrow in Texas.

"I've got two more days before we make a decision," said Clark, trying to remain noncommittal. "The running has been progressing. I've been able to do more and more. There are two more days and I don't anticipate any setbacks."

Clark has been on the disabled list since he strained his left hamstring on May 2 in a game against the Anaheim Angels at Camden Yards, and he has been missed.

He was fifth in the American League with a .367 batting average and led the league with a .524 on-base percentage when he was forced out of the lineup. The team was 15-11 and just three games out of first place when he went on the DL. The Orioles were 1-10 without him.

"Richie [trainer Richie Bancells] tested Will today," said manager Mike Hargrove. "He put him through all the paces. He tested out fine. I'm anticipating that he'll be ready to come off."

Though Clark seems equally encouraged, he remains guarded about the prospects for an immediate return.

"I'm trying to run as much as possible," he said. "I've been going from first to third with no problem. I'll do the same thing tomorrow and then Thursday we'll go from there. If I'm going to come off the DL, I have to be capable of doing everything I need to do on the field. So far, it's going OK."

Hairston to have surgery

Second base prospect Jerry Hairston has been putting it off for months, but he finally decided this week to undergo surgery to determine and correct the cause of chronic pain in his left shoulder.

Hairston, 23, has been experiencing pain in the labral area of the shoulder since the off-season, but resisted the decision to undergo surgery - apparently holding out hope that he would make the major-league club.

"I think that he just kept trying to fake it," said Orioles vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift. "I think he just put it off until he couldn't take it any more."

The operation will be performed by Houston orthopedic surgeon Dr. Walter Lowe in the next few days. The Orioles will not know until after the operation when Hairston will be able to return to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

"I don't know," Thrift added. "It could be anywhere from three weeks to whatever, but he'll play again this year."

Small summit

Thrift met with Hargrove and the coaching staff before yesterday's series opener against the Angels, but there probably won't be any drastic measures taken to pull the club out of its current tailspin.

"Everybody has the same problem," Thrift said. "So, if all of the sudden you overreact and get rid of a guy, there's a chance that he's going to find himself somewhere else. Then people are going to say, 'Look how stupid you are.' "

There had been speculation that the club would soon shake up the starting lineup and take a look at some younger players, but the loss of the club's top prospect (Hairston) to shoulder surgery makes that scenario unlikely.

Hargrove on Trombley

Hargrove said yesterday that he remains confident reliever Mike Trombley will pull out of an early-season slump that has led to four blown saves and an ugly outing Saturday that featured three home runs in a span of four batters.

"Mike Trombley is a good major-league pitcher," Hargrove said, "and he will be again. There may be a point when your patience runs out, but if you're patient with people like him who have been productive in the past and are not on the other side of the hill, they eventually pitch like they're capable of pitching.

"You've got to remember, this is the first time he hasn't been with the Minnesota Twins. He's trying to impress a new city, new fans, a new manager and new teammates. Sometimes it takes time."

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