J. Lopez starts despite back discomfort


`It's much better,' he says

Parrish alters routine


April 07, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles catcher Javy Lopez remained in the starting lineup last night despite lingering discomfort in his lower back that will change his pre-game routine.

"It's much better now. I'm good to go," said Lopez, who was removed from Monday's opener in the seventh inning.

"I'm not 100 percent, but it's good enough for me to play. It will just take a little time."

Usually content to just stretch before batting practice, Lopez said he'll begin doing exercises to strengthen his back.

"If I don't work on it, it'll come back," he said before going 0-for-4 last night. "It doesn't matter how much you stretch."

Lopez found out the hard way, after the back flared up early in spring training.

"It went away," he said, "and then it came back again."

Windup for Parrish

Though he was used for 1 2/3 innings last night, John Parrish could evolve into a situational left-hander this season, assigned to retire one or two batters.

Parrish, who allowed only two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings this spring, has been working from a full windup without runners on base, as opposed to pitching exclusively from the stretch. The Orioles figured the change would improve his control.

"He's been more consistent around the strike zone," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "He's going to be a very integral part of that bullpen because he has the stuff to be a dominant guy. But you've got to throw strikes."

Williams stays put

Never before has reliever Todd Williams began a season with the same major league team that he pitched for at the conclusion of the previous year. But Mazzilli made it possible by keeping Williams over nonroster reliever Jay Witasick.

Williams hasn't stayed with the same club in consecutive seasons since he pitched for Triple-A Indianapolis in 1997 and 1998.

"I never approach spring training feeling like I have a job," he said.

Williams, who had a scoreless inning last night, didn't allow a run in 10 innings this spring. He was 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA in 29 games with the Orioles last season, but appeared in danger of losing his job after the Orioles signed free agents Steve Kline and Steve Reed to major league contracts, and Witasick to a minor league deal.

"When I saw that they signed, I was happy because I want to win and be better," he said. "I was in no way upset. As long as I still had a role in the bullpen, or if we were better, I thought it was great."

Williams figures to be used mostly in middle relief, since the Orioles have Reed and Jorge Julio to handle the later innings from the right side.

"My role is getting my ground balls. That's what I have to do," he said. "I'm going to be ready for any situation. I'm assuming I'll be doing any role. I can be that guy [who comes in] up by three, down by five. I'm willing to do whatever."

Around the horn

Infielder Enrique Wilson accepted his assignment to Triple-A Ottawa, but must pick up his work visa in the Dominican Republic before reporting. The Orioles are still waiting to hear from reliever Witasick. ... Rafael Palmeiro started again at first base, but Mazzilli said yesterday that Jay Gibbons will play "the majority" of the games there in 2005. Gibbons served as the designated hitter last night, as he did in the opener. ... All 51 Miss USA contestants and the reigning Miss USA, Shandi Finnessey, will attend tonight's game as part of the activities surrounding the pageant, which will be televised live from the Hippodrome Theatre on Monday. Finnessey and Miss Maryland, Marina Harrison, will throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Five contestants will perform the national anthem.

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