Designated for now, Segui has 1st in sights

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

5-game DH hopes to play field when weather warms

Towers taken deep early

April 07, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Though five games into a season may be too early to begin detecting patterns, it appears that Orioles manager Mike Hargrove intends to stick with his winter plan of using David Segui primarily as his designated hitter. The box scores don't lie.

Segui still hasn't played in the field this season, with Hargrove giving all the starts at first base to Jeff Conine. Segui appeared in only 82 games last season because of injuries, twice going on the disabled list, and Hargrove has vowed to find ways to keep him in the lineup.

Asked about the likelihood of keeping Segui as his designated hitter, Hargrove said, "Yeah, for right now. It's not going to be 162 games, but yeah, for the dominant part of the time right now."

Approached by reporters during January's FanFest, Segui said he hoped to convince Hargrove that his left knee was sound enough to keep him off the bench. Segui had surgery in October to remove particles from a cartilage tear that were stuck underneath the kneecap and to clean some fraying.

"I'm not a DH," Segui said in January, "but I don't make out the lineup card. Whoever they're going to put at first is fine, but I'd rather play first base."

Segui began last season as the all-time leader in fielding percentage at the position before dropping to fourth. He still views himself as a first baseman but also concedes that a nagging Achilles' injury from spring training and the weather are conspiring against him.

"My Achilles' is bothering me, and I had some weird hamstring thing going on. That's probably the main reason," he said before yesterday's 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Because of a bone-on-bone condition, the knee is painful for Segui each day. "And this cold weather doesn't help, but my legs feel pretty decent right now," he said. "I'm doing my work at first base, and hopefully when the weather warms up a little bit, I'll be back out there.

"Wherever he puts me is fine. The bottom line is getting both of us [he and Conine] in the lineup at the same time. With the wind chill here, being the DH isn't really that bad of a deal."

Between at-bats, Segui usually can be found in the indoor cage staying loose and warm. "I swing and just keep moving around. You sit down for a minute or two and get really stiff," he said. "The temperature isn't that bad, but the wind is the worst part of it. Your eyes get dry and blurry."

The Orioles tend to get cold without Segui in the lineup. They were 38-44 (.463) with a .261 batting average and 4.7 runs scored a game when he played last season. Without him, they were 25-54 (.316) with a .235 average and 3.8 runs scored.

Hitting home in hurry

For Josh Towers to win consistently in the majors, he'll need to avoid the same poor start that sabotaged Friday's outing against the Red Sox, when he surrendered home runs to two of the game's first three batters.

Towers' velocity increased after the first inning, but he already was in a two-run hole that the Orioles couldn't escape.

"We've got to figure out a way for that not to happen again," Hargrove said. "He's aware of it because we spent considerable time talking to him. It might be that Josh is trying to overthrow when he first comes in and is getting out ahead of his arm and getting off-balance. We'll certainly look at that and see if we can correct it."

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons' third-inning home run gave the Orioles their first lead since Opening Day. ... Nomar Garciaparra is hitting .357 and leads Boston with five RBIs - only three fewer than he had last season, when wrist surgery limited him to 21 games. ... The Red Sox have outhomered their opponents 7-2 over three games.

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