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BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : Ontiveros Strains Right Hamstring

February 20, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

The Angels are being extra careful with oft-injured pitcher Steve Ontiveros, wrapping a thermal sleeve around his right elbow during the cool morning hours and placing him on a less-strenuous throwing program than other pitchers.

So what happens Monday morning on the fourth day of spring training? Ontiveros injures his right hamstring.

"I'm off to a good start, huh?" said Ontiveros, a free-agent acquisition from Oakland who is expected to bolster the Angel rotation. "As long as I finish up strong, that's what matters to me."

Ontiveros, a 34-year-old who has spent 875 days of his pro career on the disabled list, almost always because of elbow problems, strained the hamstring during a fielding drill and will be reevaluated today to determine whether the injury is serious.

"There was no popping or tearing sound; I'll just have to see how I feel tomorrow," said Ontiveros, a 1995 American League all-star who had a bone spur removed from his elbow after last season. "But you just don't know about groins."

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Lewis Yocum, team physician, decommissioned injured closer Lee Smith on Monday, recommending he not throw off a mound for at least two weeks to give his right knee more time to heal.

Smith, who had surgery after tearing the patella tendon in a November hunting accident, threw 50 pitches off a mound Friday but has since been limited to jogging, rehabilitation exercises and throwing on a flat surface.

"It's still swollen and there's still a fair amount of atrophy, which is kind of what we expected," said Yocum, who last examined Smith in January. "He had a serious injury, which takes several months to come back from, and I don't want him throwing from a mound until the swelling goes down and his strength builds up.

"The worst thing he could do now is rupture it again. I also don't want the knee problem to affect his arm. I don't want to take any chances of him altering his mechanics."

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Reliever Bryan Harvey, who underwent reconstructive elbow surgery last May and has been sidelined almost all of the last two seasons, said his arm feels fine "but it fatigues pretty quick."

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