J. Lopez eyes more rest in '05

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Catcher sees more off days early

hits just pile on up

August 16, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - Orioles catcher Javy Lopez has seen his workload increase significantly since leaving the Atlanta Braves and signing his three-year, $22.5 million contract last winter.

By next season, he wants that to change.

"I'd like to see it a lot different," Lopez said before yesterday's 11-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. "I'd like to get more off days early in the season, so I'll be fresh, and I won't need as many days off at the end of the season."

For the second time on the just completed six-game road trip, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli kept Lopez out of the lineup yesterday, deciding not to use him at catcher or designated hitter.

Lopez, 33, entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, and delivered a key two-run double in the decisive rally.

"That's my decision," Mazzilli said of starting Lopez on the bench. "He needs some days here and there. It's getting late into the season. It's not going to hurt him. Sometimes a full day [off] is better than DH-ing."

Lopez has started 92 of the team's 116 games at catcher this season, putting him on pace to start 128.

In Atlanta, he usually got a break every five games when Greg Maddux pitched, and the most games he started at catcher the past three seasons was 115 in 2001. Lopez has been outspoken with the media about his concerns, but he said he hasn't asked Mazzilli or the coaching staff for more rest.

"I thought they might do it by themselves without me telling them," he said. "They know I'm not a machine, so I was assuming they were going to give me more off days."

Lopez hit 43 home runs in 457 at-bats with the Braves last year, and the Orioles figured one advantage to bringing him to the American League would be the extra at-bats he could get as a DH.

So far, it hasn't worked out quite like they expected. Lopez is hitting .313 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.

In 364 at-bats as a catcher, he's batting .332 with 14 home runs.

In 70 at-bats as the DH, he's hitting .214 with three home runs.

Yesterday was his first hit in three pinch-hit at-bats.

"It's kind of hard," Lopez said of his DH experience. "You don't feel like you're in the heat of the game. You come out of the dugout just to hit."

But Mazzilli's options have been limited with the continuing offensive struggles of his backup catchers. Keith Osik, Robert Machado and Ken Huckaby have combined to hit .152 with 14 hits in 92 at-bats.

Big day offensively

The Orioles had numerous offensive standouts yesterday.

Brian Roberts went 3-for-6 with three runs scored and two RBIs. He had a double in the seventh inning and has now doubled in seven consecutive games, giving him 39 for the season.

David Newhan went 4-for-6 with a double, a triple and two runs scored. It was the fifth four-hit game of the season for Newhan and raised his average to .359.

Rafael Palmeiro hit his 561st career double in the first inning, moving him into 16th place on the all-time list. It was his 2,885th career hit, moving him into 33rd place on that all-time list.

Segui's return

Mazzilli said the Orioles probably won't activate David Segui from the disabled list today because they want to see how his surgically repaired left knee responds to playing on back-to-back days.

Segui's rehabilitation process was interrupted Saturday when Single-A Frederick was rained out. Segui was expected to play another game for Frederick again yesterday.

"As soon as he's ready, we're going to activate him," Mazzilli said. "The way he's swinging the bat, it'll be a plus for us, that's for sure. He's worked tremendously hard, he really has."

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