Lineup is shuffled due to Segui injury

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Hargrove moves Conine to No. 3 spot and Gibbons into role of cleanup hitter

Notebook

April 20, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - With David Segui out of the Orioles' lineup last night because of a sore knee, Jeff Conine moved up to third in the order and Jay Gibbons replaced him as the cleanup hitter.

Gibbons seemed like the logical choice for manager Mike Hargrove with a team-leading .321 average and five home runs. He took the news in stride, stretching out in a recliner inside the visitors' clubhouse at Tropicana Field before the game, his eyes fixed on one of the televisions. He smiled when approached by reporters, knowing the change was a bigger deal to them and he would be lured into talking about it.

"Segui's hurt, so somebody has to hit there," he said. "Right now I see it as temporary. I think we've started hitting the ball pretty well as a team when I was in the fifth slot. When Segui comes back, I'll probably go back to fifth.

"It's no big deal to me. I might get an extra at-bat, which would make me happy."

Gibbons has little reason to fret these days unless he checks the standings, where the Orioles are stuck in last place in the American League East.

"I have mixed feelings," he said. "For personal reasons, I'm swinging OK, but it would be nice to get a few more wins. It makes things a lot better when you're winning. It's a lot more fun."

Shortstop Mike Bordick also found a new place in the lineup last night, batting seventh for the only time this season. He previously hit second and ninth, producing a .116 average.

"I need to find a hot spot, so they'll move me around until I do," he said. "My thinking doesn't really change much wherever I hit. It doesn't bother me. I think it probably bothers Hargrove more because he has to mix it up like that. Hopefully as a team we'll get more consistent, and we'll be able to establish a more consistent lineup."

Bordick began the night with five hits, including two homers, in 43 at-bats before going 1-for-5 last night. A few of the Orioles have run into tough luck, but Bordick won't give himself that much credit.

"I'm not really hitting the ball well," he said. "You have to make adjustments and try to avoid these prolonged downtimes. I've gotten into one, but I'm working hard to get out of it and find more consistency at the plate. Be more selective, try to get a good pitch that I can hit hard and find a hole."

Hargrove has used 11 different lineups in the first 16 games. The Orioles ranked third in the majors last year with 139, trailing only the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs.

Segui's knee improves

Segui reported some improvement in his right knee, which he injured Thursday while rounding first base on a hit. He came out of the game, which the Orioles lost, 8-4, to the New York Yankees, in the seventh inning.

"He's a lot better today," Hargrove said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. It's a day-to-day thing."

Marty Cordova remains the designated hitter because of a sore hip.

Lunar clears waivers

Catcher Fernando Lunar cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Rochester.

Lunar was designated for assignment before Tuesday's game when the Orioles recalled pitchers Rick Bauer and Erik Bedard from the minors and put reliever Chris Brock on the disabled list. The Orioles were hopeful that Lunar could sneak through waivers. He was less likely to be claimed with rosters being set almost three weeks into the season.

"It doesn't surprise me because of the time of year that it is," Hargrove said, "but it does surprise me a little bit given the talent that Fernando possesses."

J. Johnson confident

Jason Johnson goes into tonight's start confident that he'll no longer be bothered by symptoms of a "dead arm" that have ruined his past two starts.

Johnson retired only four batters during Monday's 13-4 loss in Chicago, but he reported no discomfort after throwing on the side two days later. The session lasted about 12 minutes, and Johnson said his arm felt "perfect" afterward.

"There was no pain whatsoever," said Johnson, who has described an aching outside the muscle in the top of his right shoulder.

"The last time I threw, my shoulder still was tired. I had good control and all my pitches felt good, but my arm didn't feel 100 percent. It almost was like I'd thrown 200 pitches in one start. That's how it's been feeling for the last week and a half."

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