PHILADELPHIA - Losing the designated hitter in a National League ballpark last night presented Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli with a difficult lineup decision, one that would exclude perhaps his hottest hitter.
Jerry Hairston didn't start against Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Brett Myers despite hitting .396 in his past 15 games. He made two consecutive starts at second base in Kansas City and doubled twice Thursday, driving in the tying run after the Orioles began the seventh inning trailing the Royals 2-0.
"It was very hard," said Mazzilli, who met with Hairston in his office before batting practice. "For me, it's not an easy decision because you're leaving one of the better second basemen on the bench. It's tough."
Hairston ended up playing last night after Larry Bigbie left with an injury in the third inning. Hairston pinch-ran for Bigbie and stayed in left field.
Hairston has been used as the designated hitter a team-high 19 times. He has also made nine starts at second base, six in left field, six in right and one at third base, but Mazzilli doesn't view him as a utility player.
"I look at him as a second baseman," Mazzilli said. "The problem is, I have two second basemen who can play."
Hairston is the frustrated one. Brian Roberts made his 67th start at second last night while Hairston sat on numbers that included a .336 average in his past 36 games. He scored at least one run in five straight games.
"I'm not trying to sell it. You're trying to make them understand it," Mazzilli said. "He may not like the decision at times, which is fine. I understand that. Jerry, being a good athlete and wanting to play the outfield when he came back, has adapted to that and done a good job. I know he's a second baseman and I know that's where he wants to play, but I can't put Brian in the outfield. We're a better team with both of them in the lineup."
A trade would solve the problem, but Mazzilli isn't pushing for one.
"I wouldn't like it because I'm not going to give away one of my players," he said. "That's what people hint at. If that doesn't make us a better club, I don't see why we would make that move."
David Newhan has further complicated the situation. With four more hits last night, he has hit safely in all 14 games since joining the Orioles, with four home runs. Mazzilli put him in right field to give the team another left-handed hitter against Myers.
"The decision would be a lot easier if someone wasn't doing well," Mazzilli said.
B.J. Surhoff did some more light running before hitting, leaving him no closer to knowing whether he'll return tomorrow when he's eligible to come off the disabled list.
Surhoff hasn't tested his strained left calf muscle by sprinting and running the bases, activities that need to be performed before a decision is made on his status.
"There's still a lot to do. I haven't done any intense stuff yet, stuff I need to do if I'm going to play," he said.
"I'll see how it feels later today. I'm not even thinking about Sunday. That's jumping too far ahead."
Bauer pitches well
Starting for Double-A Bowie on an injury rehabilitation assignment, Rick Bauer pitched three scoreless innings in Thursday's 5-1 victory over Erie at Prince George's Stadium.
Bauer allowed two hits and struck out one before Matt Bruback replaced him and blanked the SeaWolves over 4 1/3 innings.
The Orioles were going to option Bauer to Triple-A Ottawa before putting him on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his right elbow. Rather than keep him in the minors, they apparently will return him to the active roster once he's healthy.
"If he's pitching well," Mazzilli said, "he'll be back up here."
As an Oriole this season, Bauer is 1-0 with a 6.61 ERA in 15 appearances covering 32 2/3 innings.
Mazzilli said he has chosen a starter for Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Camden Yards. He's just not making it public because he hasn't informed the pitcher.
Unwilling to reveal his hand to reporters, Mazzilli confirmed only that Bauer wasn't going to make the start.
Around the horn
Before last night, the Orioles had allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of their past nine games for a 2.59 ERA. They permitted only nine walks in 80 innings. ... Phillies third base coach John Vukovich will miss this weekend's series to attend his father's funeral today in Jackson, Calif. John Vidak Vukovich, 94, died Tuesday in Jackson. He lived in Sutter Creek, Calif.
Today @ PHILLIES 7:05 CSN
Sun. @ PHILLIES 1:35 13, 20
Mon. D. RAYS (DH) 1:35/7:05 13, 20/54, 20
Tue. DEVIL RAYS 7:05 54, 20
Wed. DEVIL RAYS 7:05 CSN
Fri. ROYALS 7:35 13, 20
Radio: All games on WBAL (1090 AM)