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Myers not yet up to crouching

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CLEVELAND - Describing his back as being "out of whack," Orioles reserve catcher Greg Myers projected yesterday that he'd remain unavailable for a few more games.

"It feels better, but it's still a bit sore," he said before the Orioles' 12-11 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.

Myers, in his first season with the club, said he felt a twinge in his back while hitting off a tee in the batting cage before Thursday's game at Camden Yards. He continued to swing, a decision he later would regret.

"After an hour or two, it really started to stiffen up," he said.

Myers kept the condition a secret while attempting to get loose in the bullpen. Unaware of the problem, manager Mike Hargrove used him as a pinch-hitter for Mark Lewis in the ninth inning. Myers struck out against Detroit closer Todd Jones in a 6-1 loss.

"The next morning, I was really hurting. That crushed me a little bit," he said. "Now, at least I'm able to sleep better and move around. I'll just take it easy for a few days."

Just as he did earlier this year while contending with the same stiffness. Again keeping quiet about it, Myers checked the schedule and saw there were no day games, which meant he'd most likely remain on the bench.

"After about four days, it was pretty much gone," he said. "I'm hoping it'll be the same thing this time."

Hargrove isn't in a bind while Myers mends. Fernando Lunar was recalled from Rochester on Tuesday, and Willie Morales will join the club in Minnesota.

The season has been a minefield of sorts for Myers, 34, who's batting .227 with six RBIs in 32 games.

He began it on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring suffered while leaving the batter's box after hitting a home run in the last exhibition game. He also was removed from an April game in Oakland while reliever Buddy Groom warmed in the ninth inning because of cramping in his forearm.

A new month hasn't brought much of a change. Myers was hit on the top of the head by a thrown ball while stretching before Friday's game. Compared to his other ailments, that one barely registered on the meter.

Garcia eligible

The Orioles will gain a player today without making a roster move.

Outfielder Karim Garcia has become eligible after serving his three-game suspension for taking part in April's brawl between the Tigers and the Chicago White Sox. He'll seek his first at-bats as an Oriole since being acquired on June 12 for future considerations and assigned to Triple-A Rochester.

"It's kind of funny to get called up to serve a suspension," he said. "When I get in there, I'll try to do my best."

The Orioles have until Sept. 15 to decide whether they'll send the Tigers a player or $20,000 to complete the transaction. Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, indicated last week it most likely would be cash.

Garcia batted a combined .283 with 28 homers and 92 RBIs at Triple-A Toledo and Rochester. He's out of minor-league options, so the Orioles couldn't add him to the 40-man roster without promoting him.

Long Ripken day?

Cal Ripken served as the designated hitter yesterday, his second game since being activated Friday, and could make consecutive starts for the first time today in Minnesota.

Hargrove said he'd wait to speak with Ripken before writing out his lineup, but noted the chances were good because the Orioles won't be coming off a night game.

Another decision centers on whether Ripken attempts to play third base on the Metrodome's artificial surface, which causes more strain on his lower back and legs.

"I would be surprised if he played third base, but he may want to test it," Hargrove said.

Ripken's double in the fourth inning came on his 11,004th at-bat, moving him past Dave Winfield for seventh place on baseball's all-time list.

Around the horn

Rookie Luis Matos said his bruised left shoulder continues to feel better and he hopes to play again in the next few days. Matos suffered the injury on Tuesday in colliding with Tigers first baseman Dean Palmer. Eugene Kingsale started in his place again yesterday, but Matos pinch-ran for Ripken in the seventh. ... Hargrove indicated that shortstop Melvin Mora could miss at least another week with a strained left hamstring suffered during Friday's game in Cleveland.

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