Slump, shoulder are keeping scowl on face of O's Mora

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Expressive Oriole tries lighter bats to ease strain

Ponson's progress is slow

Notebook

August 17, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora stood in front of his locker at McAfee Coliseum yesterday, examining the lighter bats he had just ordered. He then moved on to a series of shoulder exercises, before settling back into his chair.

The whole time, Mora never allowed a look of frustration to vanish from his face. Arguably the most demonstrative Oriole, his facial expression usually tells the story of how he is doing at the plate and how the Orioles are faring in the standings.

The look on his face last night said it all. Mora entered the second of three games with the A's just 8-for-53 (.151) at the plate over his past 14 games. He hasn't homered since July 15, a span of 29 games, and he had just eight RBIs in his past 33 games going into last night.

"When you are in first place, it's not frustrating because you are in first place," said Mora, whose average had dropped to .282 after hitting .340 last year. "But we're in fourth place. Sometimes they throw me pitches and I don't recognize and I swing at balls I am not supposed to swing at. It's not anybody's fault. It's my fault. The only thing you can do is go out there and fight every day."

Mora declined yesterday to make excuses, but he also acknowledged that there are plenty of them at his disposal. His right ankle, which he sprained earlier this month in the Los Angles series, forcing him to miss three games, still hurts him to the point where it pains him to turn on inside pitches. He also bemoaned the fact the injury has taken away his bunting game.

But more problematic, according to Mora, is an achy left shoulder, which started hurting three weeks ago when the veteran was batting against Texas closer Francisco Cordero. The injury caused Mora to order the lighter bats to ease some of the pressure on his shoulder.

"I don't know in the last three weeks if you know how many balls I have hit to right field," he said. "None. A ball I try to hit to right field is a ground ball to second base. When I've got my swing, I am lining it to center field straight. That's when I am ready. Now, I don't have that, but I am working."

Mora is just hoping that he has enough time left this season to reap the rewards from his work.

"I know it's going to happen," he said. "Somebody is going to pay. I just hope they pay before the season ends."

Ponson's calf still sore

Sidney Ponson, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 9 with a strained right calf, threw a bullpen session yesterday and reported some soreness in his right leg. Manager Sam Perlozzo said that it is unlikely that Ponson will be ready to come off the disabled list on Aug. 24, when his 15 days are up.

"He'll probably give it a go again Friday," Perlozzo said. "I'm not too sure he's quite on schedule. I would doubt that he would come off after 15 days and jump right into the rotation. I guess he could, but that's something we'd have to look into, also."

Perlozzo also didn't rule out that Ponson could be placed in the bullpen upon his return.

"That's something we'll have to look at," Perlozzo said. "It's hard to say right now. With the injury and the way the other kids are going to respond here, we're going to have to take that a day at a time and see what goes on. I have a feeling that rotation is going to change on a daily basis."

With two days off in the next week, including one tomorrow, Perlozzo said that he will keep Erik Bedard, Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen on their regular four days' rest, while spotting in Daniel Cabrera, Ponson and possibly John Maine around them. For now, Maine will pitch in long relief.

"Those guys have been the most consistent and they deserve to be on the five days," Perlozzo said of Bedard, Lopez and Chen. "And then we'll piece in the other days and we'll take that a start at a time. We'll see what happens tomorrow and make a judgment on the first opening."

Palmeiro data reviewed

Congressional staff members are reviewing the documents related to Rafael Palmeiro's failed drug test and don't expect to say anything about what they've learned until next week.

The House Government Reform Committee wants to know whether Palmeiro committed perjury when he testified under oath in March that he had never used steroids. With the Orioles veteran's permission, Major League Baseball turned over information related to his test last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Orioles today

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site/Time: Oakland, Calif./ 3:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/1090 AM

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (8-11, 5.00) vs. Athletics' Danny Haren (10-8, 3.90)

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