Sosa will be used more as O's DH

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

A few starts a week there will help slumping slugger rest

Bedard throws again

July 05, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Sammy Sosa returned to the Orioles' lineup yesterday, serving as the designated hitter rather than starting in right field. It's an arrangement that should become more familiar to him after the break.

Manager Lee Mazzilli indicated yesterday that Sosa will be used as the designated hitter "a couple times a week" for an indefinite period, providing more starts in right for Jay Gibbons.

"Sammy's a guy who, if you watch, plays the game pretty hard," Mazzilli said. "I think at times he's a little tired, and DHing will help him in the second half. But it's not like it's a permanent thing. I'm just saying a couple days a week, so it's not going to be that much of an adjustment."

Sosa is 2-for-19 as the designated hitter this season, and 7-for-41 in his career.

Asked how Sosa reacted to yesterday's news, Mazzilli said, "Tremendous."

"Sammy has been nothing but a joy for me. He's a guy who likes honesty, tell him where it's at. I know as a player, Sammy has a lot of pride in himself. It's eating him up, this first half. I really do expect a different Sammy in the second half."

Sosa missed the previous two games, sitting on the bench and in a 1-for-34 slump. He was 0-for-3 with two walks and two runs yesterday to drop his batting average to .225. He doesn't have a hit since June 25 in Atlanta.

On the positive side, Sosa got the ball out of the infield for the first time in 15 plate appearances, flying to left field to end the fifth inning.

Bedard improves

Erik Bedard threw about 50 pitches off a mound yesterday and is nearing an injury rehabilitation assignment this week.

The Orioles don't need a fifth starter until July 18 in Minnesota, when Bedard is expected to be activated.

Meanwhile, catcher Javy Lopez and reliever Jason Grimsley still are expected to rejoin the club before the break. Lopez wants to play three games on a rehab assignment this week. And the Orioles are waiting for Grimsley to pitch in back-to-back games at Double-A Bowie.

B.J. Surhoff is eligible to come off the disabled list today but isn't expected to be activated until Thursday at the earliest.

Ponson said to be fine

The Orioles remain insistent that Sidney Ponson is healthy and his struggles aren't related to elbow stiffness.

Ponson had ice wrapped on his elbow yesterday after allowing six runs in 1 1/3 innings Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. He has also been wearing an elastic sleeve.

"Sidney's a guy who just has done maintenance on his elbow all the time, as long as I've been here and before," Mazzilli said. "That's basically what it is."

Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, also said he wasn't aware of any injuries.

Happy meal

Catcher Eli Whiteside had lunch on his mind, not a promotion, when he found out Sunday that the Orioles were recalling him from Triple-A Ottawa.

Whiteside was filling his plate in the visiting clubhouse in Buffalo when manager Dave Trembley passed along the news. Geronimo Gil was going on the disabled list with a thumb injury. Whiteside, a sixth-round draft pick in 2001, was going to the majors for the first time.

"I was getting something to eat about 1 o'clock and Dave told me that I was going up," Whiteside said. "Everything was a blur after that."

Whiteside, 25, packed his bags and raced to the airport. He arrived at Camden Yards shortly after 4 p.m. for Sunday's 5:05 p.m. game.

A starter at Ottawa, Whiteside is expected to back up Sal Fasano until Lopez comes off the disabled list.

"Whenever my name's in the lineup, I'll go in there and do the best that I can, just try to do what I can do to help the team win," he said.

Whiteside was batting .263 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 63 games with the Lynx, his first exposure to Triple-A competition.

Around the horn

Gibbons left the game after rolling his right hand on a diving attempt in the eighth, but he said the injury wasn't serious. ... The Orioles have some interest in Bret Boone, who was designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners, as a right-handed bat off the bench. But according to a team official, that interest is predicated on Boone's being released. ... The Yankees drew a Fourth of July crowd of 53,844. ... Randy Johnson will be starting on three days' rest today for the first time since 1995. Rodrigo Lopez hasn't attempted it until today.

Orioles today

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site, time: Yankee Stadium, New York, 1:05 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (7-4, 4.43) vs. Yankees' Randy Johnson (7-6, 4,24)

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