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Belle's hip diagnosed as inflamed; rest ordered; status is day-to-day


MINNEAPOLIS - An examination of Albert Belle's hip yesterday apparently has revealed nothing more serious than inflammation, according to Orioles vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift, and rest is being prescribed for the right fielder.

Belle was seen by team orthopedists Dr. Charles Silberstein and Dr. Michael Jacobs after leaving the club on Tuesday. He missed all three games of the series in Minnesota, and it's not known when he'll return to the lineup. The Orioles are listing him as day-to-day.

Thrift hadn't spoken to Belle last night and wasn't sure if he'd be joining the team in Anaheim, where it begins a four-game series tomorrow.

"I don't know his immediate plans," Thrift said.

Asked if he felt confident that Belle would play again this season, Thrift said, "I'm not going to assume anything. It's day-to-day."

Belle's movements became more restricted in the past week as his condition worsened. He asked out of the lineup on Monday, the first concession he's made to the injury.

He might be limited to serving as the designated hitter, especially once Cal Ripken begins playing third base. But running the bases remains a painful excursion for Belle, who has only four homers since June 29.

Ripken takes it easy

Ripken celebrated the five-year anniversary of his consecutive-games record by doing nothing.

It was on Sept. 6, 1995, that he surpassed Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,131st game without interruption. Yesterday's rest came after three starts in a row, a significant stretch of its own. It's the most he's played since coming off the disabled list Friday.

Ripken was more active on Tuesday than in his previous games, making five plate appearances, diving into third on an attempted pick-off, and sliding home with a third-inning run.

He's been used exclusively as the designated hitter but will meet with Hargrove in Anaheim and decide if he's ready to play third base.

"It's another hurdle," he said.

He treated yesterday like just another day, teasing reporters for trying to drum up a sentimental angle to the anniversary.

"I wasn't really aware of it," he said. "It's nice to think back and remember. Certain things make you think of it more than others. Someone mentioning Sept. 6 makes you reflect.

"It was an event, it was a moment, and it was very special."

Myers still stiff

Hargrove wanted to use backup catcher Greg Myers yesterday against Minnesota ace Brad Radke, but Myers remains unavailable because of stiffness in his back.

Myers hasn't played since striking out as a pinch-hitter on Aug. 31. He had felt a twinge earlier in the day while hitting off a tee in the indoor cage.

"It's still bothering him," Hargrove said.

Rather than use Brook Fordyce after a night game, Hargrove gave the start to Willie Morales and was rewarded for his choice. Morales doubled and threw out two runners attempting to steal.

Delino DeShields returned to left field after leaving Tuesday's game in the seventh inning because of a rapid heartbeat and dizziness. DeShields headed to the dugout while the Twins were batting with the bases loaded and two outs.

No complaints

If Hargrove had signaled for Mike Trombley yesterday, the veteran reliever would have jogged in from the bullpen, no questions asked.

No questions, like, "What did I ever do to you?"

Trombley faced one batter on Tuesday, striking out Torii Hunter to end the seventh and leave the bases loaded. The outing came after he threw 54 pitches in 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, the last one resulting in Kenny Lofton's game-winning home run in the 13th.

"I felt pretty good," Trombley said. "He asked me before the game, and I would tell him if my arm was bothering me. And I knew they had a lot of lefties, anyway, so even if I came into the game it probably wasn't going to be for a long stretch. I just said, 'If you need me, I'll pitch.' And I could have gone farther. I was surprised that I felt good. I even felt good the day before."

Trombley stayed in the bullpen yesterday but said he was available if needed.

"I was kidding with the guys. I said, 'The way I throw, how sore can you get?'"

Tough on himself

Rookie Ryan Kohlmeier remains perfect in save situations - 10-for-10 since receiving his first major-league call-up on July 28. But he hasn't been making it look easy.

The Twins reached him for two doubles, a single, and a walk in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game but scored only once in a 6-5 loss. Pinch-runner Jay Canizaro was thrown out at third by Fordyce while trying to advance on a pitch that got past the Orioles' catcher but hit plate umpire C.B. Bucknor's foot.

The next batter, Denny Hocking, grounded a single into right field that would have tied the game and resulted in Kohlmeier's first blown save.

The right-hander also dodged one on Monday after loading the bases. He struck out Cristian Guzman and retired Matt Lawton on a fly ball to deep right-center that Eugene Kingsale ran down before crashing into the fence.

Kohlmeier's effectiveness may be waning, but his luck never has been better.

"Part of the problem is I've been pitching behind a lot of guys. I haven't been able to get ahead in the count. I've been working a lot of 2-0, 3-1 counts, and it's a lot easier for them to get a good pitch to hit," said Kohlmeier, whose eighth save on Saturday came after he gave up a run to Cleveland on two hits and a walk.

The first two Tampa Bay batters singled off him in an Aug. 27 game without scoring, resulting in his seventh save. The sixth was in jeopardy after the Devil Rays got a hit and two walks in an Aug. 25 victory. At least Kohlmeier is proving to himself and the club that he can handle adverse situations.

"If there is a positive, I guess that's it. You can't put much more pressure on yourself than having the bases loaded, one out, and trying to get out of that," he said.

Hargrove said he probably "pushed" Kohlmeier by using him on Tuesday after the rookie had warmed up twice during Sunday's marathon and pitched on Monday. "But if Ryan's going to close, he's going to have to pitch three days in a row," Hargrove said.

Kohlmeier has twice pitched in the fall, in Hawaii and Arizona, but will rest this year before beginning workouts in late October and preparing for spring training.

"My arm isn't sore at all, and I feel fine physically," he said, "but my velocity is down a little bit when you compare with what it was when I first got up here. It's probably starting to wear on me some. I've never pitched into September before, so I'm kind of in uncharted grounds."

Around the horn

Jeff Conine went 0-for-3, ending a seven-game hitting streak. ... Brady Anderson was 0-for-4 to end his six-game hitting streak. ... The Twins drew 20,411 for the three-game series.

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