Clubhouse offers up 2nd-hand picture

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Lowe, Hargrove took breaks during events leading up to brawl

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

BOSTON - It's not uncommon for players and managers to return to the clubhouse for brief stretches during a game, but there were two notable examples of this happening leading up to yesterday's brawl between the Orioles and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe said he was in the clubhouse when Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson hit Manny Ramirez with a pitch in the third inning. Yet as soon as Lowe took the mound for the fourth, he hit Gary Matthews with his first pitch.

Before long, Matthews and Lowe were exchanging words, leading both benches and bullpens to clear. It took the umpires about 15 minutes to restore order.

On the pitch that hit Ramirez, Lowe said: "I didn't even see it to be honest with you. I always come up here [to the clubhouse], and I saw it on TV real fast as I was walking out. But again, you protect your guys."

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove certainly wasn't expecting Lowe to retaliate. After the third inning, with the Red Sox leading 7-0, Hargrove retreated for a bathroom break. He was on his way back to the field when Matthews got hit.

"I was about halfway down the runway [to the dugout] when I heard somebody holler, and I thought, `Oh my goodness, [Lowe] must have just hit Matthews.' I had no thoughts of him doing that, or I wouldn't have left the bench."

Hargrove was back in time to see what transpired between Lowe and Matthews at first base, the exchange of words and gestures that led to the brawl.

Johnson likely DL-bound

The Orioles will likely place pitcher Jason Johnson on the disabled list to make room on the roster for John Stephens, who is expected to make his big-league debut tomorrow in Tampa Bay.

Johnson has tendinitis in his right shoulder, and the Orioles had already pushed his next potential start back to next Sunday. They can place him on the disabled list retroactive to his last start, which was last Monday, and he would be eligible to return on Aug. 7. Basically it would be the equivalent of missing two starts.

Roberts' explanation

Orioles reliever Willis Roberts earned an ejection for taunting the Red Sox players during the brawl. At one point, he had two umpires trying to restrain him, and the Red Sox later pointed to him as one of the fight's chief instigators.

"When the fight started, somebody behind me pushed me," Roberts said. "I wanted to take care of the other guys."

One of the umpires had a hard time prying something from Roberts' hand. What was in his hand? "The ball," Roberts said, breaking out into a huge grin. Apparently he had one baseball in each pocket on his way in from the bullpen, and he transferred one to his hand.

Around the bases

Though it happened fairly quietly, Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston had a terrific series. He went 7-for-10 at the plate with three doubles and two stolen bases, raising his average to .260. ... Chris Singleton went 0-for-3, ending his nine-game hitting streak. He had a 15-game hitting streak in May.

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