Back spasms put Gibbons on hold

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

After missing two games, he's awaiting MRI results

Ainsworth placed on DL

Notebook

May 28, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Walking through the clubhouse yesterday, Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons looked like he had two-by-fours strapped to both legs. His movements were stiff and deliberate, the most obvious signs that his lower-back spasms hadn't subsided enough to let him play.

Gibbons underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test, and the Orioles were waiting for the results last night. He has missed two straight games and remains day-to-day, but he could return to the lineup tonight when the team begins a three-city trip in Detroit.

Or maybe he won't.

"If it doesn't spasm up again, I think I could play tomorrow," he said. "It's getting better. I could probably play now in an emergency, but it would be painful."

The spasms began when the Orioles were in Toronto from April 16 to 18, and they spiked as Gibbons singled into right field during the ninth inning of Tuesday's 11-3 loss to the Yankees.

He was helped off the field and almost had to be carried down the dugout steps before receiving treatment. He is taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

"The other night was the worst I've had all year," he said.

"When we were in Toronto, it was just stiff. It wasn't painful, but it was uncomfortable when I was playing. I could feel it in my hips a lot. The other night I really tried to let it go on my swing. I haven't been using my hips a lot this year."

Manager Lee Mazzilli expects Gibbons to stay on the active roster, saying there was "no DL possibility."

"I don't see that, and the doctor and trainers don't see that," Mazzilli said. "With back spasms, some guys get back quicker. But he was a lot better today. If he's fine tomorrow, he'll play tomorrow or the next day."

Ainsworth is shut down

The Orioles placed Kurt Ainsworth on the disabled list with inflammation behind his right elbow. Ainsworth made one start at Triple-A Ottawa before being shut down. He received a cortisone shot in Baltimore, and the team prescribed rest for the next three to four days.

Ainsworth was demoted after going 0-1 with a 9.68 ERA.

Meanwhile, catcher Keith Osik cleared waivers, refused his assignment to Ottawa and was granted his release.

R. Lopez stays upbeat

Two starts aren't enough for Rodrigo Lopez to rethink his desire to stay in the rotation.

Lopez said he has been comfortable, and making the pitches he wants, despite being 0-1 with a 10.24 ERA since leaving the bullpen. He was 3-1 with a 0.33 ERA in relief.

"I don't feel like I'm pitching bad at all. I'm hitting my spots, and the ball's got pretty good life," he said.

"This is what I like to do, and I feel like I belong there. There was a period of two years when I didn't pitch out of the bullpen. Being a starter, I feel comfortable."

"He's been in rotation before, [and] he's had success there," Mazzilli said. "I don't think the two starts are going to change what I want to do."

Lopez has hit a wall in the fifth inning in both starts, allowing six runs against the Mariners and four against the Yankees.

"I've been feeling really, really good in both games, even in the fifth," he said.

Gary Sheffield crushed a slider for a three-run homer Wednesday, but Lopez blamed the pitch selection, not the location.

Forgotten team

The Tigers were the forgotten team in the Miguel Tejada Sweepstakes last winter, overshadowed in their attempts to get him by the Orioles and Mariners. Detroit thought enough of Tejada to make him a five-year, $45 million offer, but he grabbed the six-year, $72 million deal from the Orioles.

Tonight, the Tigers will face Tejada for the first time since he spurned them.

"I talked to [Tigers third base coach] Juan Samuel in the Dominican, and I told him I would listen to anybody," Tejada said. "He told me they were going to have a good team. I knew they were interested, but I didn't know how much they offered. When the Orioles came to me ... I just said yes right away."

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