- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2002

PHOENIX Sidney Ponson last night bore a painful imprint of the Steve Finley grounder that caromed off his right wrist in the Baltimore Orioles' 6-1 victory over the Curt Schilling and the Arizona Diamondbacks the previous evening. Red welts in the pattern of the baseball's stitches were clearly evident on Ponson's wrist before the game.

But the right-hander vowed that he would make his next start Tuesday at Camden Yards against the New York Yankees.

"I'm not trying to be a hero," said Ponson, who was ahead 2-1 when struck by Finley's hard one-hopper. "I could have stayed in, given up four runs and we lose the game."

That's a departure from the Ponson of the last several seasons, who often hid his aches and pains to preserve his place in the Orioles' rotation. But with age comes maturity, the five-year veteran explained.

"Two years ago, I probably would have tried to stay in," said Ponson. "I guess that means I'm maturing. I think I did a good thing for the team."

Manager Mike Hargrove had no intention of letting Ponson remain in the game after the fourth-inning incident, which left Ponson with a bruised wrist. Two warmup tosses neither was anywhere near the plate sealed the deal.

Ponson admitted that he couldn't feel his fingers for 20 minutes after being struck, which would have precluded him from properly gripping his curve or changeup.

Hargrove has noticed Ponson's new approach, which is something he's been anticipating for a couple of years.

"He's grown up a lot. He has," Hargrove said. "It's something you need to see in a young player, especially a young pitcher to get to the point where they deal with reality."

Next up: Barry, Giants

The Orioles begin a three-game interleague series in San Francisco tonight. That means Baltimore pitchers will have to figure out how to pitch to Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who has a National League-leading .348 average, 22 home runs and 43 RBI.

But don't count Hargrove among the managers who will choose to deal with Bonds by pitching around him or walking him in almost every at-bat. Orioles pitchers will let game situations dictate whether Bonds gets anything to hit.

"It's got to make sense during the ballgame andþ the last time I looked, Barry wasn't perfect," Hargrove said. "People are still getting him out."

Bonds, whose 85 walks lead the NL, deserves the attention, Hargrove admitted. But so do other Giants, like Rich Aurelia, Jeff Kent and Reggie Sanders.

"If the focus becomes solely on getting Barry Bonds out, that's not the right approach," Hargrove said. "There are seven other hitters, eight with the pitcher."

Traber's in Arizona

Jim Traber, the Wilde Lake High School (Columbia, Md.) product who spent parts of four seasons with the Orioles in the 1980s, is now a color commentator on Diamondbacks radio and television broadcasts.

When his professional career ended with two seasons in Japan and another in Mexico, Traber traded his bat for a microphone. He spent 10 years hosting a radio sports talk show in Oklahoma City he was a football and baseball star at Oklahoma State and later joined the rotation on ESPN Radio's "Game Night."

Once known for singing the national anthem at minor- and major-league ballparks in his playing days, Traber is still using his voice. He did some work on Diamondbacks pregame television shows in 2000 before joining the broadcast team on a regular basis last year.

"The only thing I sometimes have trouble with is talking too much. In sports talk radio, you talk all the time," said Traber. "During the game, sometimes I have to remind myself not to talk as much. It's harder than it sounds."


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