Sore hamstring sidelines Palmeiro

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He's available to hit, but running is limited

Chen makes strong case

Notebook

September 22, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli held Rafael Palmeiro out of the lineup last night because of a sore right hamstring that forced him to leave Monday's game in the fifth inning.

Palmeiro received treatment on it yesterday and was walking slowly through the clubhouse. He was available to pinch hit.

"It's just a slight strain," he said. "I felt it coming around second base and I don't want it to get any worse. It's probably better to take a day or two and see what happens.

"I can hit. The running part is the thing I'm a little worried about."

Palmeiro, who was not used last night, is batting .371 with six homers and 19 RBIs in his past 18 games, raising his average to .261. He walked in the fifth inning Monday and advanced on Javy Lopez's run-scoring single before coming out.

"It wasn't anything major, but if I pushed it, it could get worse," he said. "It's like a cramp, but it's more than a cramp."

Luis Lopez served as the designated hitter against Boston Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling, and Jay Gibbons started at first base. Lopez was 5-for-11 with a home run lifetime against Schilling before going 0-for-3 last night.

Chen's chance

Bruce Chen figured his career was pretty much finished in May when the Toronto Blue Jays gave up on him after three starts for Triple-A Syracuse.

Then the Blue Jays traded him to the Orioles and he landed at Triple-A Ottawa, where pitching coach Steve McCatty went to work on his mechanics.

Chen, 27, had certainly received enough coaching. The Orioles were the ninth organization to take a chance on the 6-foot-2 left-hander.

"He was a guy who had good stuff, but he'd get hurt when he left the ball up [in the strike zone]," McCatty said. "When he was successful, he was able to finish [his follow through on his delivery]. We worked on getting him to do that, and he really took to it."

Chen turned into Ottawa's most consistent pitcher, going 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts. Last month, the Orioles gave him another big league shot, and he's made the most of it.

In five starts, all on the road, Chen has gone 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 25 hits allowed in 33 innings. He won for the first time in more than two years on Sept. 13, tossing his first complete game.

There are times, and they've become more common with the Orioles, when he reminds the industry why he once was rated the top pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves' system.

"Obviously, he wouldn't be with that many organizations if he didn't have ability," said McCatty, who was added to the Orioles' coaching staff when rosters expanded this month. "He worked really hard and I'm happy for him. I enjoyed every second I had working with him."

Rooting interest

First base coach Rick Dempsey probably was a little more interested in Sunday's Emmy telecast than anyone else in the clubhouse, but that's understandable. How many players are related to one of the nominees?

Drea de Matteo, who won the award for best supporting actress in a drama for her work as Adriana in the HBO series The Sopranos, is a cousin of Dempsey's wife.

"I haven't talked to her since she was a young girl," he said. "In her early teens she would play with my son, and when she was younger than that. When I was with the Yankees, the families would get together all the time. I still have pictures of her with my son.

"It's nice to see that she's done something notable. We're very proud of her."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (11-14, 5.22) vs. Red Sox's Bronson Arroyo (9-9, 4.01)

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