Injury will cost Yankees' Brown at least 3 weeks

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Two fractures in left hand might also keep pitcher out for rest of the season

Orioles

September 05, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko | Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - New York Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown, who punched a clubhouse wall during Friday's loss to the Orioles, was diagnosed with two fractures in his non-pitching hand, an injury that will keep him out at least three weeks and possibly the rest of the season.

Brown, who was examined yesterday at Yankee Stadium by team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon and hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser, has a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal bone and a non-displaced fracture of the third metacarpal bone. He will have surgery today to insert a pin in the fifth metacarpal bone.

Brown had hoped to pitch through the injury with a splint under his glove.

"Three weeks is certainly the optimistic scenario, and the worst case is he won't be able to pitch for the rest of the year," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Brown, who has been one of the best starters (10-4, 3.99 ERA) on an inconsistent staff.

"He's going to be able to throw [after surgery]. He'll be doing all the pitching stuff. If we are lucky enough to get him back, all he'll miss is the competition."

Given a night to digest the self-inflicted injury, Torre still couldn't hide his disappointment with Brown, and neither could the New York tabloids, one of which carried the headline "Brown the Clown."

"The thing that bothers me is how he thought enough to throw a left instead of a right," Torre said. "I wish he would have thought a little more so he wouldn't be hurt right now."

The latest criticism of Brown within the Yankees' clubhouse came from former Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina.

"If you are going to get hurt playing the game, let's get hurt playing the game," Mussina said. "But to take yourself out for possibly the rest of the season, it's frustrating for the rest of the team. We were counting on him all year and he missed a lot of time and now he's going to miss some more time.

"We've all been frustrated, upset, said some things we wish we can take back. But physically doing something to injure yourself, I can't relate to that."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman indicated that left-hander Brad Halsey, who is 11-4 with a 2.63 ERA at Triple-A Columbus, is a leading candidate to make Brown's next start.

Segui in the field

The last time David Segui played first base, he lasted nine innings before leaving an April 24 game that the Orioles lost in the 12th inning.

He gave it another try yesterday, three days after coming off the disabled list. Segui went 2-for-4 to leave his average at .327. He also looked smooth around the bag, twice digging out throws in the dirt to save errors.

"I'm as prepared as any guy who's played first base once in five months," he said.

The Orioles will check today to see how his surgically repaired left knee responded to the extra punishment. Since going on the DL, Segui hadn't been exposed to first base except for one injury rehab game at Single-A Frederick.

"I've been taking my sporadic ground balls," he said. "That's what has gotten my knee to flare up, so I try to avoid it."

Segui admitted that he was "leery" of being in the field because of the knee.

"I hate to play one game and then be out for a couple days," he said. "But the approach I take is you play as hard as you can and you don't worry about tomorrow."

The Orioles can wipe Segui's four-year, $28 million contract off the books after this season. If his health is good, he wants to put off retirement until after 2005. But he won't subject himself or his team to another extended stay on the disabled list.

"I enjoy playing," he said. "If my knees allow me to play, it would be a strong consideration. It's been fun, even when I went out on my rehab assignment. When you get back on the field, you remember why you started to play to begin with."

J. Lopez back in lineup

Catcher Javy Lopez returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with a stiff neck, the latest ailment to strike on this road trip, and had two hits.

Lopez, who went 2-for-4 yesterday, has sat out five of the past 12 games, mostly because of lower-back pain. The neck became a recent issue.

"It got stiff in Tampa," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "He slept on it wrong."

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