Mora is sick and tired of not feeling well

Orioles notebook

Flu-like symptoms have lasted almost 2 weeks

Julio is closer to returning

March 16, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Unable to make it through the first half of yesterday morning's workout, Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora left the back practice fields on a cart and was scratched from the lineup.

Mora has been sick for almost two weeks, and it's evident in just about everything he does - and doesn't do. The flu-like symptoms caused him to lean on one of the metal benches for support, and he held an ice pack behind his neck while assistant trainer Brian Ebel transported him to the clubhouse.

Mora left Sunday's game in the third inning with shortness of breath, and was excused from camp the next day so he could be examined by a doctor.

"I'm a little better," he said before the Orioles' 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. "I'm taking real medicine now."

To prove his point, Mora unzipped a black leather bag and emptied out seven bottles and packets containing assorted medicines and vitamins.

"Oh yeah, and there's also this," he said, grabbing an inhaler from his locker.

Mora was running another fever Monday, and he's still got some congestion in his chest.

"I feel like I can't breathe, like asthma," he said. "I can breathe better right now, but I don't know about when I start running again."

Normally an animated figure in the clubhouse, regaling teammates with stories in Spanish that bring a variety of expressions to his face, Mora has barely uttered a word since becoming ill. He walks slowly into the clubhouse each morning, as if treading on shards of glass beneath bare feet, the blank stare and frown evidence that it's going to be another bad day.

"Don't stay too close to me," he warned reporters.

Mora isn't sure how he contracted the virus, though he suspects it came from one of his quintuplets. It's reached other members of the team, with Jay Gibbons staying back at his condo again yesterday and Javy Lopez bothered by the same symptoms.

Knowing he's not the only one isn't a comfort to Mora.

"I'm not the kind of guy who feels good because someone else is sick," he said.

Julio throws BP

Reliever Jorge Julio threw batting practice yesterday in the latest step toward returning from a strained right forearm, and he could pitch for the first time this spring in Sunday's game against the New York Mets in Fort Lauderdale.

The Orioles are considering a Saturday return for Julio, but that would require a trip to Fort Myers, Fla., to face the Boston Red Sox. They might wait another day and have him pitch on their home field.

"He looked good," pitching coach Ray Miller said. "He kept the ball down and threw strikes."

Julio was cleared over the weekend to begin throwing from a mound. He's scheduled to rest today while the Orioles travel to Vero Beach, Fla., and pitch a simulated game tomorrow.

High-five for Lopez

Rodrigo Lopez became the first Orioles pitcher to go five full innings yesterday, and it happened because of an adjustment he made after the second inning.

Lopez began changing speeds more after allowing two runs in the first and two more in the second, taking a little off his fastball and going more with his breaking stuff. He blanked the Cardinals over the next three innings, and the Orioles tied the game, 4-4, in the fifth.

"He changed his game plan and did what he needed to do to stay in the game," manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Asked if that's what he'd expect from his Opening Day starter, Mazzilli patted a reporter on the shoulder and headed for the clubhouse. End of interview.

Mazzilli still hasn't announced who will pitch on April 4, but the spring rotation is lined up so that Lopez's turn falls on that day.

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