Hargrove enjoying O's bench strength

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

L. Lopez leads the list of available role players

Notebook

August 22, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

One of the benefits of a crowded outfield and shortstop Mike Bordick's return to the Orioles' lineup is the overflow that reaches the bench.

Manager Mike Hargrove had the luxury of choosing between Chris Richard, Luis Lopez and Chris Singleton while the Orioles rallied in the ninth inning to win Tuesday's game over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 7-4. Richard reached on an error and Lopez singled, as the Orioles overcame a 4-3 deficit.

"It makes a difference whenever you have guys like that," Hargrove said. "On other days, Marty Cordova and [Jay] Gibbons have been there. It makes a huge difference. We were able to run three left-handed hitters at them [Tuesday], two off the bench, and that really set the game up for us."

Lopez didn't join the Orioles until July 12, but he leads them with four pinch hits. He singled in back-to-back games Aug. 10 and Aug. 11 against the Detroit Tigers.

Before last night, Lopez had been used as a pinch hitter five times and a defensive replacement twice in eight games since his last start on Aug. 9.

"I would love to play every day," he said, "but you've got to accept your role."

Lopez credits his tenure in the National League -- he played for the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers -- for sharpening his pinch-hitting skills.

"Over there you have to be ready in the first inning," he said. "You never know if the leadoff guy or the pitcher gets hurt."

Hentgen strains groin

Pat Hentgen made it through Tuesday's rehab start at Aberdeen without allowing a run, but he didn't get away clean.

Hentgen suffered a mild groin strain and might not make his next start Sunday. The injury occurred while Hentgen covered first base. "It shouldn't set him back much," Hargrove said.

Making his fourth start, Hentgen gave up four hits and walked none in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 20 first-pitch strikes and had exceptional command of his cutter.

B. Roberts horsing around

When infielder Brian Roberts returned to the minors earlier this summer, he expected to play second base every day.

Nobody mentioned the part about racing a horse.

Roberts will line up tonight against Zippy Chippy, the losingest thoroughbred in North America history, in a 45-yard dash before the Red Wings' game against Buffalo at Frontier Field. Roberts has replaced outfielder Darnell McDonald, a former No. 1 pick who accepted the challenge before injuring his leg on Monday.

Zippy Chippy is 0-93 against horses, which has gotten him banned from the Finger Lakes Race Track in nearby Canandaigua, N.Y. Now that's a losing streak.

Going Hollywood

Actor/comedian Chris Rock will use Camden Yards to film a scene for his movie, Head of State, before the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rock, who also serves as director of the film, will be shooting a scene in which his character throws out the ceremonial first pitch before an Orioles game. Fans will have a chance to be in the background.

Ripken Series is Sunday

The championship game of the third annual Cal Ripken World Series will be held Sunday in Mattoon, Ill., before moving to its permanent home in Aberdeen next year.

Ripken participated in the opening ceremonies and addressed the nearly 10,000 fans at Lawson Park. He'll return to Mattoon this weekend.

The 11-12 Series includes 12 teams from the U.S.: West Norwalk, Conn.; Mount Laurel, N.J.; Harris Township, Ind.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Sikeston, Mo.; Little Rock, Ark.; West Linn, Ore.; Visalia, Cal.; Kaimuki, Hawaii; Mattoon, Ill.; Charleston, Ill.; and Effingham, Ill. Five international teams -- Australia, Canada, Italy, Korea and The Netherlands -- also are represented.

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