Opening Day lineup nearly set, save DH


Flexibility at that spot gives Mazzilli options, but Segui seems to have slot


March 28, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The lineup written out by Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli for last night's game against the Florida Marlins could be duplicated April 4, when the club begins its season at Camden Yards.

Mazzilli stopped short of guaranteeing a repeat, but only because he has flexibility with the designated hitter. He used David Segui last night and seems to be leaning in that direction.

"It depends on how I want to go with the DHs," Mazzilli said, "but I'd say that's the way we're going to go."

Segui batted left-handed against Marlins starter Josh Beckett, but he has also hit from the right side this spring - ignoring the discomfort related to his second left wrist surgery in two years to repair a damaged tendon. Segui has an easier time from the left side because he can release the bat with his left hand after making contact.

"I don't have the same strength in the bottom hand so it's not as easy to swing [from the right], but I'm able to swing," he said. "I did it [Friday]. Every time they bring in a lefty, I do it."

Second baseman Brian Roberts led off last night, followed by third baseman Melvin Mora, shortstop Miguel Tejada, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, catcher Javy Lopez, right fielder Jay Gibbons, Segui, left fielder Larry Bigbie and center fielder Luis Matos. It appears that the DH will bat seventh, no matter who fills the slot.

"I get a lot of good feedback from other clubs, saying we've got a pretty good lineup out there," Mazzilli said.

"I think with the lineup we have, if we're close or we're behind, you feel good every inning that we're going to score runs. When your bottom three comes up, you feel pretty good because they can do some things out there as well - hit, steal bases. I like our offense very much."

Matos was a candidate to hit second, but Mazzilli prefers keeping him at the bottom of the order.

"I hit him in the nine hole and you don't hear a peep out of him," Mazzilli said. "You've got to respect a guy like that. It says something about the individual."

Osik in limbo

Keith Osik doesn't know if the Orioles will carry a third catcher, which virtually would assure that he makes the club. He doesn't know if they'll keep him in a two-man arrangement with starter Javy Lopez, or give the job to Geronimo Gil and turn him loose.

Such is life for a player invited to spring training on a minor league contract.

Asked if he's heard anything about his situation, Osik responded, "No, have you?"

"Obviously, I've been through this before. I've had to make a team every year," he said. "It's up to them."

Known more for his skills behind the plate, Osik is 1-for-15. The Orioles won't carry him for his bat.

"For the most part, if you're a new catcher, you come in trying to learn the pitching staff and get a feel for what they like to do, what their strengths and weaknesses are. I feel good as far as doing that," he said. "I've swung the bat all right, but the results aren't there. I feel pretty good for this time of year. That's what you want to do going into the season. Try to hit the ball hard."

Osik, who has spent parts of eight seasons in the majors, is unlikely to accept an assignment to Triple-A.

"There were some clubs interested in me before I came here," he said. "I'd have to explore and see what's out there. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm a big league catcher. I know what the backup role entails. There's no doubt I can do that job."

More cuts Tuesday

The next round of cuts are expected Tuesday, when the 25-man roster takes better shape.

Mazzilli said he'll probably take some extra players to Chattanooga, Tenn., for Saturday's final exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds, but that's mostly for insurance.

"That's not going to affect the roster," he said.

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