For starters, Segui's on first

Orioles notebook

Despite knee woes, vet plays first base vs. Expos


March 01, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Making it through two weeks of camp without incident, David Segui started at first base last night in the Orioles' exhibition opener against the Montreal Expos. How long he stays there largely is up to his left knee.

Segui was listed at first base for Wednesday's intrasquad game, but he served instead as the designated hitter. Manager Mike Hargrove said the switch had nothing to do with Segui's knee, which required surgery in October to remove particles from a cartilage tear and clean some fraying where a tendon attaches.

Normally a reserve outfielder, Ryan McGuire replaced him at first base. "I guess they wanted to give Ryan some work over there," Segui said.

Hargrove said he's satisfied with Segui's physical condition, but he remains noncommittal about his plans for the infield.

"He's been doing all the drills, and I haven't seen anything that would make me feel that he's limited in what he can do," Hargrove said. "There have been a couple at-bats that he's looked a little off-balance, but I don't know if that's just because of spring training or his knee's bothering him. He says his knee is fine, and I have to believe him. At this point, I'm not concerned about David."

Hargrove is cautious enough to contemplate using Segui as his regular designated hitter. He hasn't made a decision and will continue to monitor Segui as the Orioles plow through the exhibition schedule. The switch would require Jeff Conine to move from right field or Jay Gibbons to play first base.

Segui, who appeared in only one game after Aug. 23, said during January's FanFest that he would play 162 games at first if needed. "That's my goal until my knee tells me otherwise," he said yesterday.

"The bottom line is, we're definitely a lot stronger ballclub with Jeff and I in the lineup at the same time. If that means DH-ing and him playing first, that's fine with me. It'll make my job easier with him in the lineup, and it'll make us a better ballclub. There will be days when my knee needs a break."

Segui ran the bases aggressively in Monday's intrasquad game, stealing second and breaking for third on another pitch. "It feels pretty good. I think the issues going on last year with my knee are solved with the surgery," he said.

"My left knee is arthritic. All the cartilage was taken out, so it just grinds all the time. It's just a matter of taking pain medication and dealing with it. It hurts whether I'm walking out on the street or playing, but I've had that part of it for three or four years. You get used to that. There are some days it's a little more sore than other days. Today it feels pretty good."

An accomplished camp

The Orioles entered their third week of camp with nary a complaint from club officials, who marveled at the day-to-day precision of each workout.

"I think a lot of things have been accomplished by the manager and the staff, the conditioning coach and all the people involved. And not just teamwork, but individual drills - base running, pickoffs, bunting, everything," said Syd Thrift.

"The energy level of this camp is really good," Hargrove said. "The coaches are doing a tremendous job. They've got it organized. Things are running on time, instruction is tremendous, the work ethic is good. Everything is really, really good, and a lot of that has to do with the coaches."

Around the horn

Shortstop Ed Rogers remained in the Dominican Republic yesterday and now isn't expected in camp before Wednesday. Thrift said the club will learn more about Rogers' visa status on Monday afternoon. ... The Orioles signed seven more players to 2002 contracts - Chris Richard, Luis Matos, Josh Towers, Kris Foster, Willis Roberts, John Parrish and John Bale. ... Sean Douglass and Erik Bedard are scheduled to throw two innings in today's game against Montreal in Jupiter, Fla.

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