- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

PHOENIX Baltimore Orioles' right-hander Sidney Ponson left last night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth inning after being struck on the right wrist by a ground ball by Steve Finley.
Ponson sustained a contusion to the wrist and is day-to-day. He was replaced by right-hander Chris Brock with the Orioles ahead 2-1, two out and runners on first and third bases. The game did not end in time for this edition.
Ponson (3-4) cruised through the first three innings, allowing only a two-out single to Luis Gonzalez in the first. He ran into trouble in the fourth, however, when Quinton McCracken led off with a double and Ponson walked Gonzalez and Erubiel Durazo to load the bases. Damian Miller then bounced into a third-to-home-to-first double play.
Finley, the next batter, hit a hard one-hopper off the dirt strip between home plate and the Bank One Ballpark pitcher's mound. The ball caromed off the back of Ponson's right arm, which was exposed in his follow-through, and landed near the hole between shortstop and third base for an infield single.
Trainer Richie Bancells and manager Mike Hargrove visited the mound to make sure Ponson was all right. Ponson threw two warmup pitches one high and wide, the other low and away before Hargrove replaced him with Brock.
Ponson, making his 15th start of the season, is 3-3 over his last 11 outings. He has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his 14 starts this year. His last victory came May 23 at Oakland; since then he is 0-1 with three no-decisions.
Ryan rediscovery continues
Another shaky relief effort Tuesday night guaranteed Orioles left-hander B.J. Ryan's daily ritual of rediscovery would continue.
Hours before last night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ryan and pitching coach Mark Wiley were back in the bullpen, trying to work out the kinks that have come to represent Ryan's most disappointing season in the majors.
"This is the worst I've thrown since I can remember," said Ryan, who is 1-0 with an 8.06 ERA in 30 appearances. He has allowed 14 runs in his last 15⅔ innings.
Hargrove called on Ryan to keep a 4-3 deficit intact in the seventh inning Tuesday. Ryan promptly allowed a leadoff single to Quinton McCracken, got an out, then served up a homer to Erubiel Durazo. He walked the next two hitters before getting the final two outs in the 6-3 Orioles loss.
"I keep making a couple of good pitches, then I make one bad one," Ryan said. "When you're not going good and you make that one bad pitch, it gets hammered. When you're going good and you make that bad pitch, they'll foul it back."
Hargrove and Wiley are running out of ways to end Ryan's slump.
"What we're talking about more than anything else is his inconsistency," Hargrove said. "That's been his trademark as long as I've been here."
Invisible man
It has been more than a year since anyone in the Orioles organization has heard from Albert Belle, the slugging outfielder forced into retirement by a degenerative arthritic hip in March 2001.
That trend continues during this interleague series, despite the fact that Belle reportedly lives in Scottsdale, a Phoenix suburb known for majestic golf courses Belle now prowls.
"Nope, haven't heard from him," said Hargrove, adding that he doesn't expect to. "If any of us had, I think you'd have to pick us off the floor."
The Orioles must keep Belle on their 40-man winter roster, then transfer him to the 60-day disabled list each spring to collect the insurance payment against the five-year, $65million deal he signed before the 1999 season.

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