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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

Belle approaching end of his career

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Albert Belle and the Baltimore Orioles agree that it's highly unlikely he will appear in another game, the Associated Press reported.

Belle, who hasn't played this spring because of his injured right hip, was examined Wednesday by two team doctors.

Belle, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and the players association discussed how to proceed with the outfielder's departure, and all agreed he probably wouldn't play again, AP reported.

Baltimore owes Belle $13-million in each of the final three seasons of his $65-million, five-year contract, but 70 percent of each season's total is covered by insurance. The team's options appear to be releasing him or placing him on the 60-day disabled list for each of the next three seasons.

Belle has missed all six spring games because of the injury, which has left him with a noticeable limp.

The results of the examinations by orthopedic specialist Michael Jacobs and Dr. Charles Silberstein were not immediately available. Belle's agent, Arn Tellem, did not know the outcome of the examinations by late afternoon.

Belle made a quick visit to the Orioles' training complex Wednesday morning. He drove away without speaking to reporters.

If Belle cannot play, Chris Richard and Brady Anderson would play rightfield and Jeff Conine would take most of the at-bats as the right-handed designated hitter.

"I understand the situation with Albert is important for everybody. Yeah, I'd rather not have it, and I'm sure Albert would rather not have it," manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's going to run its course."

Also, Orioles right-hander Luis Rivera will miss the season after arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. Rivera, 22, had a slight tear of the glenoid labrum.

RED SOX: Right-hander Pedro Martinez threw 49 pitches in a simulated game in his first spring outing. He was happy with his fastball and curve and felt he could have pitched longer. "I felt pretty good. I felt strong," he said. "I was a little bit erratic but I should be okay by the next time I come out."

ROYALS: Darcy Bochtler, the wife of right-hander Doug Bochtler, is scheduled to have surgery today in West Palm Beach to remove skin cancer near her right ear.

TIGERS: Manager Phil Garner had a kidney stone attack just after 8 a.m. After the pain subsided and he visited a clinic, he made the one-hour drive to Kissimmee and watched the second half of Detroit's 9-4 win over Houston. "Let it not be said that I'm not willing to take one for the team," Garner joked. "I feel great. If you ever had a kidney stone, you know that you feel like you're going to die. Then the minute it's gone, it's gone and it's like it never happened."

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