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Matthews improves, but O's aren't rushing to activate him


Orioles manager Mike Hargrove didn't sound optimistic yesterday that Gary Matthews would come off the disabled list for Tuesday's doubleheader in New York against the Yankees.

Matthews has been taking live batting practice, but the Orioles might choose to give him more time while he recovers from tendinitis in his right wrist. He's eligible to return tomorrow.

"He's a lot closer than he has been," Hargrove said.

Asked if he thinks Tuesday is a possibility, he said, "No, I don't, but I could be wrong."

The Orioles are 1-12 since Matthews went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 24.

Hargrove isn't necessarily sold on the theory that the two are related.

"It's really the first that I've entertained that thought," he said. "I don't put my credence in stuff like that. I think it had more to do with the fact we played two extra-inning games and the doubleheader, and had to use our bullpen extensively due to the fact that our starters, in the last 10 days to two weeks, haven't pitched as deep into the game as they were before."

He has answer down pat

Though the Orioles still aren't listing their starter for tomorrow's game against Anaheim, Hargrove invited reporters to read between the lines. That's where Pat Hentgen seems to be located.

"I think you all know who it is," Hargrove said, "but we're going to wait for the official announcement."

Hentgen hasn't been activated from the 60-day disabled list, but the Orioles already made room on their 40-man roster by outrighting Howie Clark to Triple-A Rochester. John Stephens' turn comes up tomorrow, but he was listed with the relievers on the lineup sheet posted outside Hargrove's office.

Rochester goes shopping

The Orioles' Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, began discussions with other major-league teams yesterday after applying for free agency last month.

The Red Wings have been affiliated with the Orioles since 1961, creating the longest working relationship in baseball at the Triple-A level. Their two-year agreement expired this summer, and Rochester officials have until Sept. 26 to choose a parent club. They haven't ruled out staying with the Orioles.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos are regarded as the top outside candidates.

9/11 auctions planned

In recognition of the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11, the Orioles will hold two auctions to benefit the Maryland Survivors Scholarship Fund.

Club memorabilia, including a Cal Ripken autographed ball from his 2,131 celebration and this year's Opening Day on-deck circle with signatures from Tony Batista and Scott Erickson, will be available in a silent auction during tomorrow's game against Anaheim. An online auction of jerseys worn by the team during Wednesday's game in New York will begin on that day.

The Maryland Survivors Scholarship Fund was established to ensure that 45 children and dependents of Maryland victims of the Sept. 11 tragedies can attend college regardless of their financial status.

The silent auction, to be held at the Orioles Community Booth on the main concourse near Gate D, will begin when the gates open at 12:05 p.m. and conclude after the seventh inning. The online auction will be conducted at beginning at noon on Wednesday, with bids accepted until 6 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Around the horn

Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson most likely will start Tuesday's doubleheader in New York. Johnson was bothered by an upset stomach while lasting only 2 2/3 innings in Thursday's game against Texas, and he still didn't feel well yesterday. ... Melvin Mora didn't start last night's game. Hargrove chose to rest him after 11 consecutive starts. ... Yesterday marked the seven-year anniversary of Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games record. The Angels also provided the opposition on that night. Exactly one year later, Eddie Murray hit his 500th home run at Camden Yards.

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