Hurting Gibbons, Segui take a seat in Mazzilli shuffle

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Surhoff goes from bench to right field to DH

Riley aims for third gem

Notebook

April 21, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

In the span of about 20 minutes yesterday, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli made changes to his posted lineup that put two regulars on the bench and a Rule 5 draft pick in right field for his first major league start.

A bottle of white-out was more valuable to Mazzilli than a pitching chart.

Jay Gibbons was scratched because of a mild back strain, and David Segui took a seat next to him because of sore knees. B.J. Surhoff went from being a reserve to replacing Gibbons in right field to serving as the designated hitter, and his two-run double gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Gibbons said he experienced some stiffness in his lower back last week and it worsened yesterday after waking up.

"I didn't consider not playing or anything like that," he said. "I went into the trainer's room and I'm just having trouble getting it loose today."

The decision to remove Gibbons was made easier by his struggles against Tampa Bay starter Mark Hendrickson. Gibbons is 1-for-16 lifetime against the former NBA player, so last night seemed an appropriate time to rest him.

What if the numbers favored Gibbons?

"I would have forced them to put me in there," he said, smiling. "I would have begged them."

Segui is dealing with a sore left wrist, but his knees took a pounding in Toronto because of the artificial surface. Though he didn't play in the field, he still was exposed to the carpet while running the bases.

"I'm just going to give him a day," Mazzilli said.

Mazzilli chose to put Jose Bautista in right field rather than Surhoff despite the discrepancy in experience.

"It just gives you an option if you have to move him around, in case something happens in the infield," Mazzilli said.

Bautista, a Single-A player last year who must stay with the Orioles all season or be offered back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $25,000, had been used mostly as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.

Notified late in the afternoon that he'd be starting, Bautista didn't have much time to dwell on his assignment. Third base coach Tom Trebelhorn reminded him to take some fly balls in the corner during batting practice so he could adjust to the caroms.

Bautista tracked the ball easily while making two catches in the second inning. He went 1-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts.

Riley on a roll

If Matt Riley has a tough act to follow, it's wearing his number.

Riley, who starts tonight against the Devil Rays, held Toronto to one hit - a bases-empty homer by Josh Phelps - over seven innings in Friday's 11-2 victory. He struck out seven, giving him 12 in 13 1/3 innings.

The Boston Red Sox and Blue Jays have combined to hit .089 against him in two games.

"I'm just glad to be out there pitching," he said. "It doesn't matter which team."

Fourth in the rotation leaving spring training, Riley has been the Orioles' most effective starter, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

"I'm not surprised that I'm able to do this because I know the kind of player that I can be," he said. "When you have the opportunity to come up and play at this level, you want to take advantage of it. You're just hungry to go out there and be successful and help this team win."

Riley credits new catcher Javy Lopez, and the bond they've developed, for allowing him to dominate so early. He's also throwing his fastball and breaking ball for strikes, and mixing in a splitter that's been useful.

It's easy to forget that Riley had ligament-transplant elbow surgery in September 2000. The memory grows more distant each time he slips on a uniform.

"That's gone," he said. "You can't think about that stuff anymore."

Around the horn

Lopez extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the third inning. Brian Roberts extended his hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff double in the first. ... Former Oriole Damian Moss will start tomorrow night's game against the Orioles as a replacement for Victor Zambrano. He has a 9.00 ERA in four innings.

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