McLemore out, L. Lopez gets look at 2nd

Orioles notebook

Bautista, Fontenot ruled out as Roberts' backups

Gibbons unscathed for day

Baseball

March 22, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The instant Mark McLemore's right foot hit the corner of first base during Friday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he knew something was wrong.

Eighteen years in the majors teach a man to recognize the signs.

A magnetic resonance imaging test confirmed that McLemore tore cartilage in his right knee, which requires arthroscopic surgery and should keep him out six to eight weeks.

"I'll make it back as soon as I can," he said yesterday. "It depends on what they find. I'll get it done as soon as possible and rehab it as hard as I can."

McLemore's biography includes a reference to surgery in 1997 to repair cartilage damage in both knees, but he said that's inaccurate. McLemore never has torn the meniscus in either knee, and the only arthroscopic procedure ever done on the right one was exploratory. No repairs were necessary.

"I had a problem with my left patella tendon," he said. "I played with that for a year and a half before they could find it. But I've never had a problem with my right knee."

McLemore has needed three surgeries on his left knee, two on his right elbow, one on his right biceps and one on his right rotator cuff.

Because of the injury, the Orioles started Luis Lopez at second base in yesterday's 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He reached on an error in the fifth inning.

Lee Mazzilli dismissed Rule 5 pick Jose Bautista as a candidate to back up Brian Roberts.

Bautista, who must remain on the roster all season or be offered back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $25,000, is a natural third baseman who also plays the outfield. He appeared in a few games at second base in the minors last year, but the Orioles don't consider him an option.

Mazzilli also indicated that Mike Fontenot, the team's minor league Player of the Year in 2003, is better served playing every day at Triple-A Ottawa.

Bull's-eye named Gibbons

One day after taking another baseball off his right hand, Jay Gibbons returned to the Orioles' lineup as the right fielder and broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a two-out single off Bronson Arroyo.

Gibbons left Saturday's game against St. Louis after being hit by a Matt Morris pitch. The only damage was a bruise and small cut, since Gibbons had the hamate bone removed in 2001.

If not for that surgery, he likely would have broken it twice this spring. Gibbons also was nailed in the hand during a game against the Dodgers, again suffering a painful bruise.

"It's amazing," Mazzilli said. "He doesn't bail out, I guess. It's freaky when you think about it."

Maine is reassigned

The Orioles eliminated another player from camp yesterday when they reassigned pitcher John Maine to the minor league complex.

Maine took the loss Saturday after allowing a run against the St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings this spring.

The latest cut leaves the Orioles with 43 players in camp. Pitcher Denny Bautista reported to Sarasota over the weekend after being optioned to Double-A Bowie.

Trying time for Daal

Omar Daal didn't mind starting Saturday against a group of Minnesota Twins' minor league players.

If only he could have avoided a trip to Fort Myers. And the gusting winds. And the errors behind him.

OK, it wasn't such a good experience.

Trying to secure the fifth starter's job, Daal allowed six runs (three earned) in five innings while his main competition, Matt Riley, was charged with two runs (one earned) in 4 2/3 innings against the Cardinals.

Daal allowed two home runs in the first inning after getting two outs. "The second one, the wind just took it," he said. "It was a tough day to pitch."

His defense failed to turn a double play in the third before Daal gave up a bases-loaded double.

"I didn't feel that great out there," he said. "My location wasn't good, but I went five innings and stretched out my arm. I threw about 70 pitches."

O's get a day off

The Orioles enjoy their only day off today, and a group of players were making golf plans and looking forward to a little relaxation before the grind resumes. The complex will be closed. And nobody will be trying to get inside.

Mazzilli also was looking forward to a break, though he'll likely spend most of it composing 25-man rosters in his head.

"Sometimes, a day off is the best medicine," he said. "They work hard. It's well-deserved."

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