Gibbons focused without his lenses


Removal of contact lenses leads to hot streak, but he plans to wear them in '05


September 02, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jay Gibbons seems to have regained his batting eye since the Orioles activated him from the disabled list. Next year, he'll be looking through contact lenses.

Gibbons removed the lenses last month because he felt uncomfortable with them, and because of a hitless streak that made him just as unsettled. He had hit safely in six of his past seven games, going 11-for-29 (.379).

He doesn't look like a guy whose vision needs adjusting.

"I feel a lot better," he said. "I've just tried to go out there and relax a little bit more and stop pressing. I'm just trying to put the ball in play, and hopefully they find a hole."

Or the opposite side of the fence. Gibbons homered twice Tuesday night, raising his total to eight in 258 at-bats, but he wasn't in last night's starting lineup.

"I'm just trying to take what they give me," he said.

Gibbons said he'll attempt to wear the lenses next season. He gave up on them last month because he'd lose focus when running hard or diving for a ball.

"I had a heck of a time getting them back in focus," he said. "I think it just takes a while to get used to them. And I went, like, 0-for-18 with them in, so I yanked them out. That was good enough for me."

So why even bother?

"I do see better with them," he said. "Just walking around it's a night-and-day difference. I really can see from a distance. I noticed in the outfield I pick up the ball right away, whereas without them I'd almost see two balls at the start."

Return of Gil

It took until rosters expanded for catcher Geronimo Gil, last year's starter on Opening Day, to rejoin the Orioles.

At least he isn't bitter.

Last seen throwing a tantrum in the clubhouse at Fort Lauderdale Stadium after the Orioles cut him in spring training - he smashed a trash can with one of his bats - Gil said the five months he spent with Triple-A Ottawa were beneficial.

"I think it was good for me," he said. "I got to play every day. It's a big difference."

Gil was listed with catcher Robert Machado among the reserves last night. Javy Lopez made his 101st start behind the plate.

Bigbie's back

One game at Single-A Frederick was enough for Larry Bigbie, who joined Gil and David Segui as additions to the Orioles' roster. Bigbie and Segui were activated from the disabled list.

Bigbie homered twice for the Keys on Tuesday night in an abbreviated rehab assignment.

"I just wanted to go down and see some pitching and get my timing back," he said.

Bigbie also wanted to see some balls off the bat in left field, but none was hit to him.

At least he got back on the field, which was flooded before Monday's game because a sprinkler was set off during the night. About 20 inches of water collected, and Bigbie arrived in time to see a helicopter trying to dry it.

"It was bad," he said. "I don't know how the teams played."

Discounted tickets

In recognition of Labor Day, the Orioles are offering discounted tickets to federal government employees and their families for Monday's 1:35 p.m. game against the Minnesota Twins.

Federal government employees, federal government contractors, military personnel and their family members may purchase left field lower box seats for $20, or upper reserve seats for $8.

Individual tickets may be purchased at the Orioles' ticket office or by calling 1-888-848-BIRD. Fans will need to provide a valid government photo ID if purchasing tickets in person or the name of the federal government agency or department and ID number if ordering by phone.

Around the horn

Melvin Mora led the majors with 31 RBIs in August. His total was tied for the third-most in club history for one month. ... Double-A Bowie's Walter Young and Jacobo Sequea were named the organization's Player and Pitcher of the Month for August. Young batted .303 with eight homers and 23 RBIs. Sequea was 1-1 with six saves and a 1.88 ERA. ... The Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa didn't have anyone chosen to the International League's postseason All-Star team.

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