Gibbons' 2-for-3 day what doctor ordered

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He rebounds after illness dropped weight, average

April 29, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons lost six pounds while fighting a viral infection over the past week, so it's no coincidence his offensive production suffered, too.

Gibbons came down with the virus in Tampa Bay two weekends ago and had a difficult time eating. He was batting .317 with seven home runs and 12 RBIs through the first 17 games, but came into yesterday riding a 2-for-19 slump.

Losing six pounds is a bigger deal to Gibbons these days because he dropped 20 pounds over the off-season on a vegetarian diet, slimming down his muscle mass to produce more bat speed.

"I really can't afford to lose all that weight," Gibbons said.

Gibbons said he was feeling better yesterday. He went 2-for-3 with a double, three walks and three runs scored in the Orioles' 13-0 rout of the Kansas City Royals. But he still doesn't have a home run or RBI since April 20.

"I'm starting to get my appetite back," Gibbons said. "I'm trying to eat some doughnuts so I can gain back that weight."

Segui still out

David Segui, who has missed the past two games with an injured left hand, felt better yesterday than he did on Saturday but probably will be out of the lineup awhile longer.

"It's a day-to-day thing," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready [today]. I would probably think he won't be, but we'll see."

Respect for Lowe

The Orioles knew firsthand what it was like for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday, getting no-hit by Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe.

On April 5, Lowe carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Camden Yards before Tony Batista broke it up with an infield single.

"All I saw was fastballs the whole game," said Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine. "You face him and say, `He's throwing nothing but fastballs, we should be able to get a hit.' He's doing you a favor if he throws a slider."

Said Gibbons: "Two years ago, he was one of the best closers in the game, so it doesn't surprise me at all. He had a lot of late sink on the ball against us. Everyone is coming in the dugout saying, `I thought I was right on it,' and you look up and you have no hits."

Popcorn practice

One of the ways Orioles third baseman Batista works on his swing is by having a teammate toss him popcorn kernels, so he can hit them with his bat. It's an odd ritual, and when asked about it yesterday, Batista said he didn't want to talk about it.

Batista has his quirks, but he entered yesterday ranked fourth in the American League in RBIs. He had a run-scoring double, giving him 24 RBIs for the season.

Mora's leadoff success

Melvin Mora entered yesterday ranked second in the American League in on-base average as a leadoff hitter, at .455. Oakland's Jeremy Giambi was first on the list, at .471. Chicago's Kenny Lofton was third at .437, followed by Rickey Henderson (.400), Ichiro Suzuki (.387) and Alfonso Soriano (.385).

Mora has batted in the leadoff spot every time he's been in the lineup since April 12. Jerry Hairston, whose overall on-base average is .280, lost the everyday leadoff role and now hits ninth when he is in the same lineup as Mora.

Mora went 0-for-4 with two walks yesterday, leaving his overall on-base average at .452.

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