- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 26, 2001

BALTIMORE Luis Matos, Mike Hargrove and no one else with the Baltimore Orioles will know for sure what might have been this season had Matos not dislocated his shoulder in spring training.
In all likelihood, the 22-year-old outfielder would have spent most of the year roaming center field at Class AAA Rochester. However, given the events of the past few months, Matos could have worked his way up to the Orioles and made his case for a spot in the regular lineup.
Instead, he'll have to settle for a 34-game audition down the stretch following his recall Friday to Baltimore, a fact with which Matos has come to terms.
"I was here for four months last year [playing in 72 games], so I knew I had a chance to make it in the beginning of the season," he said. "But I guess these things happen for a reason."
Matos never really got a chance this spring to show the Orioles what he can do. During an exhibition game March 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he slid awkwardly into third base and dislocated his shoulder. Surgery followed, then a lengthy rehabilitation program that did not result in his playing a game in the field until about a week ago.
Matos' defensive prowess has never been questioned. The Orioles' larger concern is how the slender outfielder is progressing at the plate. A 12-game stint at Class AA Bowie in which he batted .311 with a homer and eight RBI convinced Baltimore that he was ready to return.
Hargrove said he plans to give Matos significant playing time in center field down the stretch, beginning this afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays. If all goes well, the Orioles expect him to compete for the regular job next spring.
Cal's new streak ends
It won't quite measure up to 2,632, but Cal Ripken's streak of 14 consecutive games played which ended last night did represent a milestone of sorts for the 41-year-old Orioles third baseman.
One of Baltimore's most productive hitters since he announced his impending retirement June 19, Ripken has shaken off his previous status as a part-time player and spent the last two weeks as an everyday member of the lineup.
Hargrove said he planned to rest Ripken last night all along, though the manager momentarily forgot while making out his lineup during the afternoon and had the Iron Man batting fifth and playing third base.
Upon arriving at Camden Yards, Ripken saw his name in the lineup and went into Hargrove's office briefly. Hargrove emerged and reshuffled his lineup, inserting Brian Roberts as designated hitter and moving Tony Batista to third.
"My brain was on neutral for about 30 minutes," Hargrove said.
Erickson progressing
Veteran pitcher Scott Erickson, out since last summer with a torn elbow ligament, threw batting practice for the second time. According to Hargrove, the pitcher continues to be doing "very, very well" in his rehab program.
The right-hander threw 80 pitches only fastballs and change-ups during early batting practice to Roberts and Jerry Hairston. Hargrove hasn't fully ruled out the possibility of Erickson returning this season but concedes that scenario is highly unlikely and that the club is pointing for next spring.
Extra bases
First baseman David Segui missed his second straight game with a chronically sore left knee that has bothered him all season. Segui is listed as day-to-day and is not expected to be placed on the disabled list… . Entering last night's game, Jeff Conine was batting .394 with four homers and 21 RBI in his last 16 games.


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