D. McDonald gets a call, start

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

3-double start at Ottawa precedes O's shot vs. lefty

Hairston plays with pain

Orioles

July 25, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Darnell McDonald joined the Orioles yesterday for the second time this season, and once again, his name was in the starting lineup. No sense waiting for a chance to play.

Mazzilli wanted another right-handed bat against Minnesota Twins left-hander Terry Mulholland, so he put McDonald in center field and sat Karim Garcia and Larry Bigbie.

McDonald went 0-for-3, but he laid down a bunt that proved key in the Orioles' go-ahead seventh inning.

"It's definitely exciting for me to come up here and get a shot," McDonald said. "I'll try to make the best out of the opportunity."

McDonald, the 26th overall selection in the 1997 draft, was batting .227 with five homers and 32 RBIs. In his last start, he went 3-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs in Thursday's 9-7 loss to Louisville.

"I was swinging the bat really well coming off the break," he said. "I've been feeling more comfortable and getting good results. That's another good thing. When you get called up, knowing you're swinging the bat well, it gives you a little more confidence."

Finally able to reach the majors this season, McDonald went 4-for-13 (.308) with two runs scored before returning to Ottawa. He wasn't concerned whether the Orioles would give him another chance.

"I was just worried about getting my swing back," he said.

Sore Hairston plays on

Baseball has become a game of survival for Jerry Hairston.

Hairston missed Wednesday's 10-5 victory in Boston because of sore ribs, and he was hit just above the left wrist by a Carlos Silva pitch Friday night. He remained in the lineup last night.

"I can't avoid it," he said. "I'm trying, but you've got to keep going. It's a long season, and there will be times when you're banged up. No biggie."

Hairston left Tuesday's game at Kansas City after crashing into the right-field fence while making a catch. He was in obvious pain Friday but stayed in the game.

"Once the pain subsided a little bit, it was just sore," he said. "After about 15 minutes, it was all right."

"When something like that happens," manager Lee Mazzilli said, "you cross your fingers and hold your breath."

Hairston made his 19th start in right field, eight more than at second base, the position he would prefer to play.

"You try to make the best of the situation," he said. "I want to play every day. I feel like I've earned it. But if it means playing right for now, then I guess that's how it has to be."

Once appearing to be lost in the outfield, Hairston has made five sensational catches in right during the second half, including a diving grab in the fifth inning last night.

"I take a lot of pride in playing the game," Hairston said. "I want to do the best job I can. I'm still getting my feet wet, and I'm going to make some mistakes out there."

Second base might be safer for Hairston.

"There are no walls in the infield," he said.

Not a total loss

Though John Maine's major league debut Friday lasted only 3 2/3 innings and ended with a loss, pitching coach Ray Miller was impressed by the rookie. He just wanted to check the age on Maine's driver's license.

"He looked like he was about 12 to me," Miller said.

Though Maine, 23, relies mostly on his fastball, he also has shown an improved curveball and changeup. And he recently began throwing a slider, which he'll continue to refine at Triple-A Ottawa.

"He's got four good pitches. He had a great curveball in the bullpen. I didn't see it in the game that much," Miller said.

"He's what you call a long-armer, which means [the ball] gets on the hitters a lot faster. With a guy like that, you really have to be smooth. His delivery has to be very precise right up to the release point."

Miller sensed that Maine was overthrowing, a common mistake for a rookie.

"When you get to the big leagues, they start hitting pitches you've never seen hit before," he said. "That has a tendency to make you overthrow. After a while, you realize they get paid to do that."

Around the horn

Rick Bauer fell to 0-2 at Ottawa on Friday after allowing five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also walked three with a balk. ... The Orioles and Twins wore throwback uniforms from 1975, adding splashes of color to the field. The Orioles broke out orange jerseys, while the Twins wore their powder-blue jerseys and pants.

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