Orioles don't skip in the rain


The Orioles'fourth postponement of the season yesterday won't create much havoc within the starting rotation. Manager Mike Hargrove said he'll simply push everyone back a day rather than skip Pat Rapp, who would have pitched yesterday if not for the rain.

The game was called shortly before 2 p.m. A makeup date most likely will be announced later this week, and fans have been instructed to hold all tickets and rain checks.

The weather has affected the schedule three times while the Orioles have been at Camden Yards, and once while in Texas. They were able to make up one of the postponed home games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Rangers game was moved to Sept.12 as part of a doubleheader.

Jason Johnson had been scheduled to pitch in that game, but missed his turn when Hargrove elected to keep the rest of his staff on normal rest. Johnson went two weeks between starts, pitching once out of the bullpen and warming up another time.

Rapp won't have to worry about being disrupted to that extreme. Rather than pitch yesterday, he'll start today's opener of a four-game series in Tampa Bay.

"I don't want to skip Rapp," said Hargrove, whose club doesn't have another planned day off until June 12, after a 10-game road trip that includes National League cities Montreal and New York, the other home makeup game with Tampa Bay and a home series vs. Philadelphia. "Rapp's not a No. 5 guy. We'll just back everybody up."

Rapp has gotten used to some irregular work during his career, with the occasional missed turns as a fifth starter and moves to the bullpen, so yesterday's news didn't bring any concerns.

"It happens all the time," he said while packing for the trip. "I haven't realized it [an extra days' rest] hurting me in the past."

Rapp will be facing Tampa Bay for the second time. He limited the Devil Rays totwo runs in six innings to gain an8-4 victory on April20.

This time, however, he won't be pitching to Jose Canseco, who went on the disabled list retroactive to May 25 with a strained left heel.

"That's one guy gone," he said.

He still might have to contend with sluggers like Greg Vaughn, Fred McGriff and Vinny Castilla, though Vaughn left Friday's game with a strained right hamstring and didn't play the rest of the weekend for the first time this year.

"With the power-hitting lineup they've got, it's about being careful with every hitter," Rapp said. "I've got to do like I did last week, just keep the ball out of the middle of the plate and try to get some outs."

Had yesterday's game been played, Hargrove would have rested third baseman Cal Ripken. Jeff Conine would have started in Ripken's place for only the fourth time this season.

"It was just to give [Ripken] a day," Hargrove said.

Ripken has hit safely in seven of nine games since rejoining the lineupMay 17 after missing four games because of nerve irritation in his lower back caused by scar tissue from his surgery last September. Ripken hit his ninth homer on Friday.

The rainout also gave center fielder Brady Anderson extra time to recover from some soreness attributed to his crash into the warning track and fence while chasing a fly ball during Saturday's game. Anderson was grimacing as he sat in front of his locker, but had his name written into the lineup.

Meanwhile, outfielder Rich Amaral continues to deal with a painful back that flared up while dressing for Friday's game. Amaral had been in the starting lineup until his back "locked up." Hargrove moved Albert Belle, who was supposed to serve as the designated hitter, to right field and used Will Clark as the DH.

Amaral was careful yesterday to avoid bending forward while packing for the road trip. He squatted down each time he placed an item in his bag, and used his hand to brace himself when rising.

"It figures that it happens on a day I'm supposed to play," said Amaral, whose last appearance was a May 21 start in center field in Texas. "It's feeling better. I'm sure it's going to be just fine."

Not everyone benefited from the rainout. Head groundskeeper Paul Zwaska would have been honored with a ceremony before his final game with the Orioles. Zwaska, who's held the job at Camden Yards since it opened in 1992, resigned to join a Wisconsin-based firm that sells athletic and groundskeeping equipment.

He was responsible for installation of the ivy that has now grown to the top of the batters' eye in center field. Zwaska also encouraged the beautification project typified by the abundant flowers and shrubbery surrounding Camden Yards.

"Not only the Orioles organization but all Orioles fans are indebted to Paul for helping make Oriole Park at Camden Yards the baseball cathedral that it is," said chief operating officer Joe Foss.

Orioles today

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site: Tropicana Field, St.Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 4:15 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch.54/WBAL (1090AM)

Starters: Orioles' Pat Rapp (3-2, 4.61) vs. Devil Rays' Steve Trachsel (3-4, 5.58)

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