Carlos Mendez missed one game at Triple-A Ottawa before the Orioles purchased his contract May 19, and that was only because manager Gary Allenson didn't want him to wear down over the course of a long season. It's not as if Mendez wanted out of the lineup.
Now he can't get into it.
Mendez has made six appearances with the Orioles, the last coming Sunday in St. Louis. In 12 minor league seasons, he was accustomed to getting regular at-bats. Now he's getting splinters.
It's a good kind of pain.
"People ask me, `Are you getting anxious?' I want to play, but I'm happy here," he said, the smile offering further proof. "I know my role. I'm as happy as can be to be wearing a major league uniform."
Mendez went 1-for-2 in his debut May 22 at Anaheim. Pinch-hitting for David Segui, he doubled off reliever Brendan Donnelly in his first at-bat. He is 2-for-7, including another double, with a run .
"I have to always be ready every game in case I have a chance to get in," he said. "I stay prepared by doing extra hitting in the cage and by running. Mentally and physically, I have to be ready. It's an adjustment."
Manager Mike Hargrove doesn't seem inclined to give Mendez a start with B.J. Surhoff on an offensive tear, Segui serving as the designated hitter when healthy, and Jeff Conine starting all but two games at first base. Mendez has caught in the minors, but he would be used only in an emergency.
Mendez hit safely in 36 of 42 games at Ottawa and ranked second in the International League with a .384 average. He could be returning there next Saturday, when Marty Cordova is eligible to leave the 60-day disabled list.
Cordova has been swinging a bat this week, the latest steps in his recovery from arthroscopic surgery April 24 to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
Lopez back in rotation
Hargrove made Rodrigo Lopez's return to the rotation official yesterday, naming him as tomorrow's starter against the Milwaukee Brewers. Pat Hentgen will move to the bullpen.
The Orioles will wait to announce a corresponding roster move when Lopez comes off the disabled list. He hasn't pitched since straining a muscle on his left side during the first game of a May 1 doubleheader in Detroit. He's 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA.
Travis Driskill could be optioned to Ottawa, though he gave the Orioles four quality relief innings on Thursday, and more to consider while altering their 12-man staff. Driskill held the Chicago Cubs to one run while earning his first professional save since 1995 with Double-A Canton-Akron.
Hargrove said there are "two or three guys" being considered for demotions.
With the date being Friday the 13th, Lopez wished he could have pitched last night.
Lopez wears No. 13 with the Orioles, making him unique in major league clubhouses, where superstitions run to extremes. His last victory came on Friday, Sept. 13, in Boston.
Nothing to fear here.
Lopez requested the number after joining Double-A Mobile, a San Diego Padres affiliate, but it had been retired to honor former catcher Ben Davis. He wore it with Triple-A Las Vegas before the Padres promoted him in 2000, and somebody else had it when he returned.
He offers two reasons, both sentimental, for his interest in 13. Lopez said his wife, Romy, became his girlfriend on that date, and his older brother, Raul, wore it while playing youth-league baseball.
"I picked it to stay close to my family," he said.
Chasing a record brush-off
The seventh-inning stretch might be replaced as the most popular baseball tradition at Bowie Baysox games.
It's time to rinse and spit.
The Orioles' Double-A affiliate is attempting to make the Guinness Book of World Records tonight for most people brushing their teeth at one time. They'll need to exceed 3,900, the mark set a few weeks ago by the Single-A Greensboro Bats.
All fans entering Prince George's Stadium for the 7:05 p.m. game against Erie will receive a toothbrush, toothpaste and a cup for water. In the fifth inning, they'll be asked to brush their teeth simultaneously for one minute while attempting to make history.
Around the horn
Hargrove decided to give Segui another night off before returning him to the lineup. He wanted to make sure Segui's bruised left foot was healed, and Surhoff was 10-for-18 since being activated from the disabled list. ... The Orioles' top four minor league affiliates were a combined 124-132 (.484) before last night. They were 95-164 (.367) through games of June 12 last season. ... The Orioles were 30-34 after 64 games for the fourth year in a row. ... The Orioles signed their second-round draft pick yesterday, right-handed pitcher Brian Finch of Texas A&M, and assigned him to short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Brewers' Ruben Quevedo (0-2, 5.02) vs. Orioles' Jason Johnson (5-2, 3.88)