Hargrove may be gone `couple or three days'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

His mother hospitalized in Texas on Saturday

April 21, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The door to manager Mike Hargrove's office remained shut, with the lights turned off, before yesterday's game. Orioles officials aren't sure when he'll occupy the room again.

Hargrove missed the Orioles' 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to be with his mother, Rita Ann, who is ill. The club is unable to provide much information on her condition or when he'll return.

Bench coach Sam Perlozzo ran the team in Hargrove's absence. He wouldn't sit behind the desk after the game, choosing instead to stand in a far corner.

Hargrove took a 6 a.m. flight to Perryton, Texas, yesterday, after alerting Perlozzo on Saturday that he was needed in his hometown.

Rita Ann apparently had experienced some dizziness while the Orioles were on their first road trip, which concluded Thursday, and underwent tests. She was hospitalized Saturday.

"He said they took her in and took all her vitals and everything was OK. They just weren't sure what was going on," Perlozzo said. "He didn't say anything else about it, but he came in yesterday after the game and said, `I might have to leave for a couple days. My mom's not doing too well.' I guess he found out they found a mass in her intestines or kidneys, and they weren't sure what it was or if they needed to operate or not."

Hargrove signed autographs before driving out of the parking lot Saturday. He spotted Perlozzo in his rearview mirror, pulled to the side and told him about the pending flight to Texas.

"He said, `It looks like she's not doing real good. I'm going to have to go,' " Perlozzo said. "He was trying to hold off so if she didn't need an operation ... he didn't want to go, come back and have to go again."

Perlozzo doesn't know how long he'll be in charge. "He just said he might be gone for a couple or three days. He said he'd be back as soon as he could, and he asked me to call him every day and give him a rundown on what's going on."

They discussed the lineup on Saturday before Perlozzo posted it on the bulletin board outside Hargrove's office. With David Segui still unavailable, the Orioles batted Gary Matthews third behind Melvin Mora.

"We didn't have a whole lot of choices," Perlozzo said. "Gary hit there all last year, and that's where he was successful. This is probably the least disruptive change."

This is the second time Perlozzo has managed the Orioles during his eight years in the organization, the last three spent as bench coach. Hargrove left the club July 18 to attend the funeral of long-time Cleveland Indians trainer Jim Warfield, and the Orioles lost in Toronto, 5-4.

Perlozzo was a finalist for the Seattle Mariners' job this winter that went to former Oriole Bob Melvin.

"The more you do it, the better you get and the more comfortable you get," Perlozzo said. "I've got a lot of people around me, and I'm pretty familiar with what Grover wants to do. He told me to do whatever I wanted. I doubt we'll do anything drastic.

"This is a situation where we'd like to do well so Grover doesn't have any more headaches. He has enough on his mind."

One extreme to the other

Twelve batters faced Rick Bauer over his first three appearances. Twelve didn't reach base.

He couldn't stay perfect all season, but the Orioles would settle for Bauer regaining his effectiveness.

In his past four appearances, covering 8 2/3 innings, Bauer has allowed 10 runs and nine hits. The damage includes three home runs.

"When I make a mistake," he said, "it seems to be a big one."

Given a 9-4 lead, Bauer walked two batters to begin the ninth inning of Friday's game against Tampa Bay. Toby Hall hit a three-run homer, and Hargrove brought in closer Jorge Julio.

"The last four times, I've given up a couple runs but I've also had a couple good innings," he said. "I've just got to keep battling and not get down on myself. I didn't cost us a game the last two times out, so I can take that out of it. Last year, the big hits came with nobody on, so I've got to get back to that."

Hargrove suggested after the game that Bauer, who didn't allow a run in the seventh and eighth innings Friday, might have lost focus. "I think he probably learned a valuable lesson," Hargrove said.

"It won't happen again," Bauer said. "I'll tell you that much."

Morban joins short list

When shortstop Jose Morban deposited a pitch into the right-field seats Saturday, he became only the fourth Oriole whose first major league hit was a home run. He was the first to do it as a pinch hitter.

Former pitcher Buster Narum is the only Oriole to homer in his first major league at-bat, connecting May 3, 1963, in Detroit. Other Orioles whose first hit was a homer are catcher Larry Haney (July 27, 1966) and third baseman Craig Worthington (April 27, 1988).

Narum's homer was in his only at-bat with the Orioles. He appeared in seven games before being optioned to the minors. The following spring, he was dealt to the Washington Senators for a player to be named, which turned out to be Lou Piniella.

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