B. Roberts out at least a week with injury

Hyperextended elbow shuts down infielder

March 03, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Mostly free of injuries during the early portion of spring training, the Orioles could be missing infielder Brian Roberts for at least a week because of a hyperextended elbow.

The Orioles are shutting down Roberts for the next "five or six days," said Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations. Roberts was examined yesterday after complaining of stiffness in the elbow and didn't appear in the club's 10-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"He noticed it getting stiff but didn't pay any attention to it," Thrift said.

The injury apparently occurred when Roberts swung at a pitch during Friday's game against the Montreal Expos in Jupiter, Fla. He'll continue to receive daily treatments at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Roberts' name surfaced in trade talks with the St. Louis Cardinals over the winter while the Orioles were pursuing starter Dustin Hermanson and closer Dave Veres. If Roberts stays in the organization, he might have to settle for playing every day at Triple-A Rochester rather than serving in a utility role with the Orioles, who made him a supplemental pick in the 1999 draft.

Roberts appeared in 75 games with the Orioles as a rookie last season, batting .253 with 12 stolen bases.

The Orioles also were missing utility player Howie Clark, who's bothered by a sore quadriceps muscle. They re-signed Clark, who spent last season in Mexico, for his ability to play every position.

Jerry Hairston spent all nine innings of yesterday's game at second base, and Mike Moriarty replaced Mike Bordick at shortstop. The Orioles still don't have Ed Rogers or Eddy Garabito, who remain in the Dominican Republic while waiting for their work visas and confirmation of their ages. And Melvin Mora hadn't been cleared to swing a bat until yesterday after breaking the ring finger on his left hand.

Can anyone spare an extra glove?

"Our middle infield competition might be put on hold a couple days," said manager Mike Hargrove.

Pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, whose four-hit shutout clinched the Caribbean World Series for Culiacan, has been unavailable because of a sore ankle. Lopez is using a treadmill and apparently is nearing a return.

Meanwhile, Calvin Maduro might have gained some early ground in the race for the fifth starter's job -- without throwing a pitch.

Maduro, who will work two innings in today's exhibition game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., has watched rookies Sean Douglass and Rick Bauer struggle in their spring debuts and Lopez contend with an injury.

Douglass allowed two runs in the first inning of Friday's game against the Montreal Expos, and the Dodgers roughed up Bauer a bit yesterday. Though he only gave up one run in two innings, Bauer surrendered four hits and walked a batter. He dodged trouble in the third by picking off Dave Roberts, but a one-out single by Mark Whiten and triple by Marquis Grissom in the fourth cut the Orioles' lead to 2-1.

Hargrove greeted the performance with a shrug, knowing judgments can't be made so soon.

"I hesitate to dissect a guy his first time out," Hargrove said.

Bauer has a tape of last season's final game, which happened to coincide with Cal Ripken's farewell. Called up when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, Bauer went seven innings in a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

He replays the night in his head, but not on television. "My dad's watched it, but I haven't," he said. "I lost, so I don't want to watch it too much."

Not that he doesn't appreciate the moment. Inside a packed stadium and before a national television audience, a 24-year-old rookie with only five major-league starts nervously held the ball.

"It was a huge deal," he said. "A lot of people bring that up and it's nice. I'm glad I got that honor to throw his last game. That's one thing I'll definitely remember for my whole life, that one experience."

The present brings him back to south Florida and a competition for one spot in the rotation. Maduro will follow Scott Erickson, who hasn't faced hitters from another club since undergoing ligament-transplant surgery in August 2000.

Erickson will be placed on a pitch count that Hargrove estimated "between 30 and 50." His outing could last three innings, which would make him the first Oriole to go that far.

"He's not being held back," Hargrove said.

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