Back ailments limit J. Johnson, relegate Cordova to sideline

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Right-hander still slated to start Saturday

DH scheduled for MRI today

April 03, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles reduced Jason Johnson's start at their minor league complex to one inning Monday because of back spasms, and Marty Cordova was scratched from last night's lineup because of discomfort related to a lower back strain.

Cordova was listed as the designated hitter in the original lineup, but he was removed after stopping by manager Mike Hargrove's office around 4 p.m. His back began to tighten after making a long bus ride to Fort Myers, Fla., for a March 24 exhibition game, and he was scratched from the lineup two days later. Cordova started on Opening Day, and though the pain increased along with the innings, he hit a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning.

The Orioles have scheduled a magnetic resonance imaging test today, and Cordova also intends to get a cortisone shot. He wants to play tonight, but might have to miss a few games.

"My sciatic nerve is pinched or something. Hopefully I can get a shot and relieve that pressure on my nerve and I'll be able to play," he said. "Today I could hardly bend over, so I didn't think I'd help the team much."

Cordova, who is taking anti-inflammatory drugs, aggravated his condition while reaching to make a catch in Saturday's final exhibition game at Shea Stadium. He already has visited a chiropractor.

"I got an X-ray, and my spine was really off-line and my pelvis was really tilted," he said.

Hargrove inserted Melvin Mora into the seventh slot in the order last night, where Cordova would have batted, and put him in left field. B.J. Surhoff was made the designated hitter.

Meanwhile, Johnson stayed in Sarasota, Fla., while the Orioles opened the season Monday. He pitched one inning in a Triple-A game before experiencing spasms on the left side of his back.

Johnson, who returned to Baltimore on Monday night, threw on the side yesterday and didn't report any pain. "I'll get it about once every two years, and it just happened to be the other day," Johnson said.

Named the fifth starter in camp, Johnson remains scheduled to pitch Saturday against Boston at Camden Yards.

Down on the farm

John Stephens, the Orioles' minor league Pitcher of the Year for three of the past four seasons, will start today's opening game for the Ottawa Lynx, the club's new Triple-A affiliate.

Stephens joins a rotation that includes Sean Douglass, Travis Driskill, Mike Drumright and left-hander Eric DuBose.

Left-hander John Parrish, who missed last season after having knee surgery, will begin the year at Double-A Bowie because of a visa mix-up that prevented him from entering Canada. He'll eventually join the Lynx.

Welcoming the military

The Orioles played host to about 4,700 members of the military from the Baltimore-Washington area last night, including groups from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick, Naval Support Facility in Thurmont, Naval District Washington, U.S. Coast Guard, Bolling Air Force Base, Quantico and the Marine Barracks in Washington. The U.S. Army chorus performed the national anthem.

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