Bigbie stubs toe, boots Tigers

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Used to pinch run, he adds 2-run single to 6-run 9th

Hairston back in outfield

May 31, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - Orioles left fielder Larry Bigbie had X-rays taken yesterday after stubbing the little toe on his left foot in his hotel room.

Bigbie wasn't in the starting lineup, but he wound up playing a key role in the team's 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

The X-rays showed no broken bones, and midway through the game, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli checked to see if Bigbie could play.

"He asked if I could score from second base," Bigbie said. "I told him I could score."

So after Javy Lopez led off the ninth inning with a single, Mazzilli inserted Bigbie as a pinch runner. With the Orioles trailing 2-1, Bigbie advanced to second on a single by Luis Matos and scored the tying run on B.J. Surhoff's single to center field.

The Orioles wound up batting around, so Bigbie came up with two outs, the bases loaded and his team leading 5-2.

"It was the first time I picked up a bat all day," Bigbie said.

But Bigbie drilled a two-run single up the middle off Tigers left-hander Jamie Walker. He finished the series 5-for-9 with six RBIs, and raised his average to .263.

Bigbie hoped he could return to the lineup today for the Orioles' makeup game at Boston.

"It's one of those things, where even if [the toe is] broken or sprained, it's the same thing," Bigbie said. "You just tape it to another toe, and deal with it."

Hairston returns to left

With Bigbie out, Mazzilli gave Jerry Hairston his second start of the season in left field, and Hairston responded by going 4-for-4 with a key two-run single off the left-field wall in the ninth inning. It was the fourth four-hit game of Hairston's career and first since Sept. 30, 1999.

Hairston had never played the outfield as a professional before this season. He borrowed an outfield glove - which is larger than his second baseman's glove - from Melvin Mora.

"Whatever way I can get in the lineup," Hairston said. "I wouldn't say it's totally foreign. Nothing in this game is easy, so you have to keep working at it."

Hairston wasn't his jovial self as he answered those outfield questions. But Mazzilli has to be creative to find ways to keep both Hairston and second baseman Brian Roberts in the lineup.

Mazzilli acknowledged the current situation probably isn't fair to Hairston, who played second base Saturday night.

"No question," Mazzilli said. "I understand that. That's why I try to mix it up a little bit when I can. I wish I had a definitive answer; I really don't. But I think he understands it. Obviously, he'd like to be playing second base, but when he's not, he's in the lineup hitting."

Ottawa hitters struggling

The hitters who have been with the Orioles this season and gone back to Triple-A Ottawa aren't having much success in the International League.

Darnell McDonald entered yesterday batting .188, Jack Cust was at .222 and Tim Raines Jr. was at .246.

Raines was successful in 13 of his 15 stolen base attempts, and Cust drew 19 walks, giving him his usual high on-base percentage of .347 (with three home runs). But overall those three haven't been as productive as the Orioles had hoped.

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons took some swings for the first time since he had to leave Tuesday night's game with a bulging disc in his lower back, hitting flip-tosses in the batting cage. Today, he will try to hit off live pitching during batting practice, but chances are, he won't return to the lineup until tomorrow in New York. ... Orioles reliever Mike DeJean tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings yesterday, lowering his ERA to 8.68. He gave up one hit and walked two batters in the seventh, but still escaped the inning unscathed, keeping the Tigers' lead at 2-1. DeJean retired the first two batters in the eighth before Mazzilli turned to left-hander Buddy Groom.

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