Roberts, Mora get penalties reduced

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher's suspension down to five games

outfielder will now miss just 3 games

September 14, 2002|By Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko | Joe Christensen and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - With the Orioles about to play the Boston Red Sox last night for the first time since their July 28 brawl, Major League Baseball reduced most of the suspensions handed down in the aftermath of that fight.

Orioles reliever Willis Roberts' suspension was reduced from seven games to five games, and leadoff batter Melvin Mora's was reduced from four games to three. Both began serving their suspensions last night.

"I didn't think they'd be completely wiped out," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "I'd certainly rather serve them in September than August or July."

Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe plans to drop his appeal and will begin serving his five-game suspension after today's start against the Orioles. Lowe admitted to instigating the brawl by taunting Gary Matthews after hitting him with a pitch.

Though it isn't official, the commissioner's office plans to reduce the penalties to Boston catcher Jason Varitek (four games to three), infielder Rey Sanchez (three games to two), and pitching coach Tony Cloninger (two games to one).

Varitek and Sanchez will begin serving their suspensions Monday, allowing them to play this series against the Orioles, and Cloninger served his suspension last night.

Roberts said five games was "better than seven," and Mora said three games was "still too much, but what can I say?"

Mora defends his swing

Mora is in a lengthy slump, with his only hit in his past 23 at-bats being a home run. It seems appropriate.

Even casual observers of the team have noted that Mora appears to be swinging for the fences each time he steps into the box, with his average and on-base percentage suffering. But Mora, used mostly as the club's leadoff hitter, denies that his approach has changed.

"Everyone says, `Oh, you're trying for home runs,' and it's not fair because I haven't been doing that all year," said Mora, whose 19 homers are four more than his career total coming into the season.

"When I was hitting .270, nobody said nothing. When my average went down, then people said, `It's because he's trying to hit home runs?' How do you know? Do you know what my mind's thinking? My swing's always been like that, and it's going to continue like that. The only thing about this year is I have more power, and when I hit the ball it goes out. But I don't try to do that."

Hentgen wants results

Orioles pitcher Pat Hentgen said his elbow felt fine Sunday in his first start since he underwent ligament replacement surgery, but he's looking for more today when he goes back to the mound against the Red Sox.

"I want to win," Hentgen said. "Health is obviously important, but at this point, I'm healthy, and it comes down to executing my pitches and winning games. I'd like to do a better job and get deeper into the game."

Hentgen held the Anaheim Angels to just one run over his first five innings Sunday, before giving up a three-run homer to Troy Glaus and a bases-empty shot to Bengie Molina. Hentgen should have three more starts this season.

Around the horn

Mike Bordick played his 96th consecutive errorless game last night, breaking Cal Ripken's American League record for shortstops. Bordick needs six more errorless games to break the major-league record for shortstops, held by the New York Mets' Rey Ordonez.

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