Richard gets medical sign to swing away


On hold, rehab of shoulder to continue at Rochester

L. Lopez takes turn at top

July 15, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Content that no further damage had occurred to Chris Richard's left shoulder, the Orioles sent him to Triple-A Rochester yesterday to resume his injury rehabilitation assignment.

Richard was shut down after three games, the most recent coming last week at short-season Aberdeen, and had a magnetic resonance imaging test in Baltimore. The information was sent to be reviewed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed Richard's surgery in November.

The Orioles learned over the weekend that no changes had occurred in the shoulder, which required an arthroscopic procedure to reattach the capsule and clean some fraying in the rotator cuff.

Richard is expected to play tonight against Louisville.

Acquired in a July 2000 trade with St. Louis, Richard appeared in 136 games last year in his first full season in the majors. The Orioles used him in right and center field, first base and at designated hitter, and Richard responded by batting .265 with 15 homers and 61 RBIs. He missed two weeks with a right knee contusion suffered when he crashed into the fence while chasing a fly ball June 19.

Although swinging a bat hasn't presented a problem for Richard -- he homered at Aberdeen -- he still can't throw without pain. He could be restricted to DH duties upon returning to the Orioles later this summer.

Taking it from the top

For the first time in almost a month, the Orioles used a different player as their leadoff hitter.

Manager Mike Hargrove placed second baseman Luis Lopez, who joined the team on Friday, atop the order for yesterday's game against the Oakland Athletics. Melvin Mora hadn't vacated that spot since June 19.

Rather than slide down a little, Mora experienced more of a free fall. He batted sixth, the first time he hadn't been first or second since April 10.

"We're just giving them a different look," Hargrove said.

Lopez went 0-for-4, failing to get the ball out of the infield, but Mora had a double and was hit by a pitch.

Cordova rests sore foot

One day after switching from designated hitter to starting left fielder, Marty Cordova became an expensive reserve.

Cordova was rested after making 22 consecutive starts. He continues to receive treatment for a tendon injury in his right foot, but Hargrove said Cordova got through Saturday's game without aggravating it.

"I'm just giving him a day off," Hargrove said.

It didn't last for nine innings. Cordova walked in the eighth as a pinch hitter for Ryan McGuire.

Ponson is probable

Hargrove said he was "fairly certain" that Sidney Ponson would make tonight's start when the Orioles open a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners.

Ponson was pushed back a day to give the blister on his right middle finger more time to heal. He has left his past two starts because of it.

"I talked to Sidney last night and he seemed to be positive that he'd be ready to go," Hargrove said.

The Orioles have used a variety of methods to prevent the blister from resurfacing.

"We've tried everything, secret elixirs and everything," Hargrove said. "The best thing you can do is keep it trimmed down and filed, and try to build a callus in that area."

Towers on the rebound

Pitcher Josh Towers, part of the Orioles' starting rotation before being optioned to Rochester, allowed one hit in five scoreless innings of relief in a 5-2 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.

Having returned from the disabled list after a sore elbow shut him down, Towers replaced another former Oriole, Sean Douglass, and turned in his best performance since joining the Red Wings.

Towers and Douglass are expected to appear in the same game once more while remaining on pitch counts. Douglass is working himself back into starter's shape after long stretches of inactivity in the Orioles' bullpen.

Around the horn

Jorge Julio, who picked up his 18th save, hasn't allowed an earned run in his past 17 games, going 2-1 with nine saves in 10 attempts. ... Buddy Groom tossed a scoreless eighth. He has allowed one hit in his past 10 games and one run in his past 16. ... Oakland's Mark Magnante ended a run of 15 straight games without an appearance by taking over for Cory Lidle in the sixth. He held the Orioles scoreless the rest of the way.

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