Starting at the top, lineup is shaken up


Facing lefty, Hairston bats leadoff in Mazzilli overhaul

July 20, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With a noticeable new urgency filling his voice, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli shook up his lineup yesterday and had a series of meetings with his players to explain all the changes.

Facing another left-handed starter in Kansas City's Brian Anderson, those changes started at the top. Mazzilli used right fielder Jerry Hairston as his leadoff hitter and moved second baseman Brian Roberts down to the No. 9 spot.

It was the first time all season Roberts had hit anywhere but leadoff. Roberts came in batting just .215 against left-handed starters, and had stolen just two bases since June 9.

He responded by going 1-for-3 with a leadoff single and a steal in the seventh inning. Hairston went 0-for-5, dropping his average to .299.

Mazzilli also bumped first baseman Rafael Palmeiro down to the No. 6 hole for the first time this season, where he went 2-for-4. He had Melvin Mora batting third, Miguel Tejada batting fourth and Javy Lopez (3-for-5) batting fifth.

"I'm going to be playing the guy who has the hot hand right now - all over this field," Mazzilli said.

Karim Garcia, the player the Orioles received yesterday from the New York Mets for reliever Mike DeJean, was expected to arrive in Kansas City late last night, and Mazzilli said he plans to use him as the right fielder.

Mazzilli said he intends to keep Hairston and David Newhan in the lineup, even if that means sitting an outfielder. This seemed to put a target on center fielder Luis Matos, who went 0-for-4 and is riding a 4-for-46 slump.

"I've seen it," Mazzilli said. "The guys have been out there the whole first half, playing as hard as they can, and it got to a point that I feel I have to put the best team for us to win. And if it means sitting one of the guys in the outfield or the infield, that's what's going to happen."

Surhoff still shelved

B.J. Surhoff, who has been on the disabled list for the past month with a strained left calf, said he's feeling better, but the Orioles haven't let him test the injury by running on it since Independence Day weekend.

Club officials traded for Garcia, figuring they would be without Surhoff's left-handed bat for some time yet.

"I'd feel a lot better knowing that he's a week away," Mazzilli said. "I just don't know."

Elsewhere on the injury front, David Segui went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the first game of his rehabilitation assignment for Double-A Bowie. And Tejada was helped off the field with leg cramps in the ninth inning but stayed in the game on defense. Mazzilli said the injury was not serious.

Needed: Fenway starter

The Orioles will need a spot starter because of Thursday's doubleheader in Boston, but that spot start might not come until Friday. Mazzilli said he might bring back Dave Borkowski on three days' rest to pitch Thursday, with Rodrigo Lopez.

Borkowski threw just 89 pitches in Sunday's loss. Under that scenario, one of their top two candidates from Triple-A Ottawa - Bruce Chen or John Maine - would pitch Friday.

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