Mazzilli bides time as list of walking wounded grows

Orioles notebook

Gibbons, B. Roberts join 3 others

Bigbie bats fifth

March 10, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

JUPITER, Fla. - If it had been April 9, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli probably would have let his regulars play hurt yesterday. On March 9, he wasn't going to take a chance.

With second baseman Brian Roberts reporting some slight stiffness in his left groin yesterday, Mazzilli scratched him from the starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Roberts joined Jerry Hairston, Luis Matos, Jay Gibbons and Javy Lopez on the injured list. More than half of the starting lineup is hurt, but with the exception of Hairston, who is out four to six weeks with a broken finger, Mazzilli said everyone else probably could have played.

The most important injury news of the day never came, as the Orioles waited to release the results of a bone scan taken on Matos' right shin. Those results were expected to show whether Matos has a stress fracture or shinsplints.

With shinsplints, Matos could return next week. With a stress fracture, he could miss another month.

Matos had the examination done in Florida, and the Orioles chose to send the results overnight to Baltimore so their own doctors could take a look. Vice president Mike Flanagan said it was all a matter of procedure, saying he didn't think any new red flags had gone up.

"I think we'll know more [today]," he said.

Gibbons survived a scare Monday, when he got hit with a pitch on the right hand. Yesterday, there was a black-and-blue mark on the pinky side of Gibbons' palm, and when he tried holding a bat, the knob was rubbing against the bruise.

Mazzilli gave Gibbons the choice of playing, and Gibbons chose to rest.

"If I had to play, I would," Gibbons said. "I could just choke up on the bat. But I just decided to give it a day. I tried to pick up a bat, and it was very uncomfortable. It's like sticking a finger into a bruise."

Lopez, who has missed the past two games with a pinched nerve in his neck, is expected back in the lineup today against the Florida Marlins, Mazzilli said.

"It's a little stiff," Lopez said. "But it should be OK for [today]."

Roberts made the trip to Jupiter, but Mazzilli pulled him aside in the dugout before the game to tell him he wasn't playing. Roberts had reported the groin stiffness in the morning, and though he was sure he could play, Mazzilli thought better of it.

"It's a minor thing, but you've got to make that decision so a minor thing doesn't turn into a two-week thing," Mazzilli said. "It took me about three seconds to make that decision."

Bigbie slides to fifth

After using Larry Bigbie in the No. 2 spot in the batting order for four of the first five exhibition games, Mazzilli slid him to the fifth slot yesterday. Mark McLemore hit second.

Mazzilli said he liked what he saw out of Bigbie in the No. 2 spot, but added, "That's not written in stone yet. I'm still playing with it; I really am."

Mazzilli said he also intends to give Melvin Mora a shot at hitting second. Bigbie went 0-for-3 yesterday, lowering his average to .231.

Around the horn

This is the third consecutive spring that the Orioles have just six spring games scheduled against American League opponents. This year, the Orioles will only play two AL teams, with four games against the Boston Red Sox and two against the Minnesota Twins. ... The Orioles and Cardinals went 10 innings yesterday, and Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada was among the players who never left the game. He went 1-for-4 and made several fine defensive plays.

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