- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2000

Scott Erickson may have pitched his last game for the Baltimore Orioles this season. The club is evaluating whether the right-hander has recovered sufficiently after undergoing elbow surgery in March and is considering putting him on the disabled list for the rest of the year.

"That's a possibility," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations. "We don't know. We'll know more [today]."

Erickson had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow March 3, and did not make his first start for the Orioles until May 5. He has been suffering from a sore elbow lately as his ERA has skyrocketed. He has a 5-8 record with a 7.87 ERA.

Erickson, 32, is signed through the 2003 season. The 10-year veteran had been the subject of trade rumors before his recent slide, which made interested teams back off, believing he is still hurt. The most recent disappointment came in Tuesday's 19-1 rout by the New York Yankees. Erickson allowed eight earned runs in four innings, his second shortest outing of the season.

"He was really struggling with his location," Orioles catcher Charles Johnson said after Erickson repeatedly left pitches high against the Yankees. "Whenever he locates it down in the zone, he's fine."

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder had been a workhorse for Baltimore in the past. As recently as 1998, the sinkerballer led the American League in innings pitched with 251 1/3 innings and also with 11 complete games. Last season he was second in the league in innings with 230 1/3 and won 14 of his last 18 decisions to finish with a 15-12 record and a 4.81 ERA.

"He certainly hasn't found his stride," manager Mike Hargrove said after Erickson was shelled by New York. "He hasn't found his rhythm. You keep waiting for him to do it."

The outing was the fourth consecutive start in which Erickson has allowed four or more runs. Over those four starts, Erickson has a 1-2 record with a 9.70 ERA. Those numbers alone suggest something is off. There are questions about Erickson's arm strength and his mechanics.

"You never have to question Scotty's mental and physical effort when he goes out on the mound," Hargrove said. "He's there to pitch and stay on the mound. There's a lot to say about a guy like that."

If no changes are made in the rotation, Erickson will start Monday's home game against Minnesota.

Meanwhile, it was a quiet day for the Orioles on the trade front as Monday's deadline approaches. The Yankees are said to remain interested in outfielder B.J. Surhoff, but the deal reportedly has been held up because New York doesn't want to part with star shortstop prospect Alfonso Soriano. Thrift said there was no new progress as of Thursday afternoon.

The New York Mets are looking for a shortstop to improve their pennant chances, and Mike Bordick is at the top of their shopping list. Bordick is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, but the 34-year-old is negotiating an extension with the Orioles. Catcher Johnson also will be a free agent after the season and has been the subject of trade talks, as has designated hitter Harold Baines.

Baltimore did make a roster move, placing utility infielder Mark Lewis on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, retroactive to July 21.

The Orioles did not announce a roster addition, but it is likely Ryan Minor will get the call. The third baseman has been rehabilitating from a strained rib cage at Class A Frederick the past two nights.

"I'm not feeling any pain," said Minor, who was placed on the disabled list July 5. "I will be fine. I'm ready to go back."

Minor had been working out in Florida with the Orioles' Gulf Coast League team and began hitting July 20. Minor, who had become an everyday player in Cal Ripken's absence, could not work out at all for about three weeks while the injury healed.

"It's crazy," said Minor, who batted .238 in Baltimore after being called up from Class AAA Rochester. "You see it happen a lot. I had never been on the disabled list in either the minor leagues or major league before."

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