Waiting is agony, but thumb fine for ready Segui

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

On DL, he hits `a ton,' but avoids introduction

Ponson still on schedule

April 01, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles had one player in uniform yesterday who wasn't active on Opening Day. One player who didn't want to be introduced to the crowd during the pre-game ceremonies.

Perhaps David Segui will feel more like a part of the team next weekend.

Segui, on the disabled list with a displaced fracture of his right thumb, continues to say he'll be ready when eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday. He has been hitting from both sides of the plate and tracking pitches in the bullpen to sharpen his timing. The only thing holding him back is the calendar.

"I've been swinging a ton," he said.

The Orioles haven't decided whether to send Segui on an injury rehab assignment before activating him. He compiled 27 at-bats in spring training.

"They haven't said anything about it," Segui said. "I'm sure it helps a little bit, but it's one more game wasted."

"Given the way he's swinging the bat in BP," manager Mike Hargrove said, "I think we'll give a lot of consideration to him not going out and getting rehab at-bats. We'll talk about that before we make a decision, but I think the argument can be made for him not having to do that."

Hargrove will use Segui as the designated hitter to further protect the thumb, which he fractured while trying to shield himself from a line drive at first base before a March 12 exhibition game in Fort Myers, Fla.

"We'll be very careful about putting a glove on his hand. That could be one thing we hold back from," Hargrove said.

Asked about the possibility of being activated Saturday, Segui said, "I expect to, but it's not my decision. I feel like I can play right now."

The soreness that Segui experienced while swinging from the left side - he can't release the right hand if it's on the bottom - subsided after the first day, he said.

"I'm far beyond that now," he said. "I feel good."

Ponson is still a go

Sidney Ponson continues to be listed as the Orioles' starter for Friday's series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.

Ponson, whose bruised left ankle was painful enough to warrant a magnetic resonance imaging test last week, threw two innings on Sunday at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla.

"It feels good. It's not affecting me," he said yesterday.

The Orioles were prepared to put him on the disabled list and give Pat Hentgen the start if Ponson's ankle hadn't improved. But Ponson apparently has convinced them that he can pitch in the season's fourth game.

"I didn't do anything to hurt it," Ponson said. "I changed shoes after throwing in the bullpen and ran, and it started to bother me. I iced it down, and the next day I couldn't walk on it. I was trying to think if I could have done something to it."

Mora waits his chance

After weeks of speculation over whether he'd start yesterday, Melvin Mora sat in the dugout as the Orioles took the field for the first inning. He was a reserve, unlike the 2002 opener when he started in left field.

That doesn't mean he won't be busy. Mora appeared in 149 games last season, playing five positions while establishing career highs with 19 homers and 16 stolen bases.

The Orioles want to use him in a super utility role, where his versatility can be put to better use, but injuries and other circumstances could force him into the lineup again on a regular basis.

Either way, he'll be ready.

"Everybody would like to be in the lineup and play every day. Ask anybody on this club, they want to be playing. But if they want me to back up, I'm going to do it," he said.

"I know I can play. Anytime they need me, I'll be here. And before this season is over, I'll be playing a lot. I don't worry about it"

Snow daze

Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston grew up in Chicago, but he couldn't remember playing baseball in the snow. Yesterday's opener gave him the chance.

He didn't care for it much.

"I couldn't see the ball," he said. "It was a hard time, but the fans got a kick out of it. It was a little weird, but we got through it."

Hairston got into the proper position in the third inning to take the relay on Ellis Burks' drive to the wall in right field - a ball that Jay Gibbons never saw until it was too late. Hairston couldn't find it, either.

"The only reason I went in the right direction is I saw Ellis Burks' reaction," Hairston said. "The way he hit it, he was looking in that direction, so I knew it was going that way. I was like, `I hope it doesn't hit me in the head.' "

Hairston did get drilled in the left thigh by a Jake Westbrook pitch in the 13th inning but stayed in the game. He applied ice after entering the clubhouse and expected to be sore today.

First Fame frame

Eddie Murray, who threw out the first pitch yesterday before returning to the Indians dugout as their hitting coach, played his first major league game on the same field as Hargrove.

Murray's debut came as the Orioles' designated hitter on April 7, 1977. He went 1-for-4. Hargrove, starting at first base for the Texas Rangers, went 1-for-3 and scored a run.

The Rangers won in 10 innings, 2-1, with Bert Blyleven and Jim Palmer pitching complete games.

Only ace in the hand

How confident were the Indians in having C.C. Sabathia as their Opening Day starter?

He was given the assignment about two days into spring training.

"It's a big step for the organization to have faith in me," he said before holding the Orioles to two runs in seven innings.

Sabathia has completed only two full seasons in the majors, but he was the obvious choice in a rotation that includes two rookies and journeymen Brian Anderson and Jason Bere.

"It's exciting to get the chance every fifth day and be the guy the organization is counting on to go out and try to win games," he said.

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