Is a change in order? Byrnes may drop down


No. 2 hitter entered game in 1-for-29 slump

Palmeiro still not ready to return


August 21, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Locked in a slump that began when he faced his original team on the road, Orioles left fielder Eric Byrnes soon could move out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

Byrnes went 0-for-5 Friday and was 1-for-29 in the past eight games before last night, when he went 1-for-4, forcing interim manager Sam Perlozzo to contemplate a change.

"I've given it some thought," Perlozzo said. "He did some extra hitting [Friday] and he had a couple at-bats where I thought he looked a little better. We'll go a day at a time with him and see how he goes. If he doesn't start breaking out of it soon, we'll have to look at moving him somewhere."

Perlozzo has two options for the second slot. He could elevate Luis Matos, who was batting .422 (19-for-45) in his past 13 games before last night, or bump up Melvin Mora from third.

"Ideally, we'd like to see [Byrnes] get a couple hits and not think about it," Perlozzo said.

Byrnes could be guilty of trying to pull the ball too much lately. He also was pressing in Oakland, where he went 0-for-13 against the team that brought him to the majors and traded him to the Colorado Rockies earlier this season.

Since 1980, only one other major league player, infielder Tim Teufel, went hitless in 13 or more at-bats in a series against a team he used to play for in the same season.

"I've been terrible," Byrnes said. "Going to Oakland didn't really help, as far as trying to do too much when I was there. It got me outside my game a little bit. Unfortunately, I've been a very streaky player in my career. I've got to find a way to be more consistent. That's been my biggest downfall as a player."

Byrnes hit second last night against Cleveland Indians left-hander Cliff Lee. He began the night batting .286 against left-handers and .200 vs. right-handers as an Oriole.

Palmeiro remains out

With his sprained right ankle still not allowing him to run at full speed, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro will sit out today's series finale before returning to the lineup Tuesday at Camden Yards.

Palmeiro tried to run on the field and said his ankle hadn't improved since Friday. "I can swing the bat. It's just a matter of running around the bases," he said. "I'd be going at half speed."

Palmeiro will get additional rest with tomorrow's open date on the schedule.

"He's still a little sore," Perlozzo said. "We'll give him the rest of the weekend off and make sure it's good and strong. No sense taking a chance if he's not 100 percent."

Palmeiro wants to play first base upon his return. He has been used as the designated hitter twice since returning from a 10-day suspension for violating baseball's steroid policy.

Waivers `part of the game'

ESPN reported that Palmeiro has cleared waivers, a requirement for any player to be traded before Aug. 31, when playoff rosters must be set. But he isn't reading too much into it.

"That's part of the game," Palmeiro said. "Everybody gets put through waivers at one point or another to see who's interested. I'm sure there are a ton of guys."

Teams can pull back players if they're claimed.

Reliever Steve Kline also cleared waivers, but closer B.J. Ryan was blocked, according to ESPN.

Cabrera not close

Perlozzo doesn't sound optimistic that Daniel Cabrera will make his scheduled start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Cabrera was scratched Wednesday because of a strained back. John Maine or Eric DuBose could start in his place.

Asked if Cabrera still was a possibility for Tuesday, Perlozzo said: "I doubt it. He's going to have to throw a pretty good side session before he's considered back into the rotation."

Outfielder B.J. Surhoff is eligible to return from the disabled list Tuesday from a strained groin muscle.

"B.J.'s probably going to be pretty darn close, if not ready," Perlozzo said.

Lefties batter Kline

Last season, Kline held left-handers to 12 hits, including one home run, in 84 at-bats. They batted .143 against him, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a key weapon as they won the National League pennant.

It has been a different story in 2005. Left-handers began last night with 28 hits, including five homers, in 84 at-bats against Kline, a .333 average that has prohibited Perlozzo and former manager Lee Mazzilli from trusting him in close games.

Kline allowed a walk-off homer to Ben Broussard on Friday night, the only batter he faced in the 10th inning, and berated himself afterward. His velocity is down, perhaps the byproduct of a torn tendon in his left index finger that required surgery last year and prevented him from pitching in the World Series.

"You try to put him back in a situation where the game might not be on the line and he can go in in a good spot and get his confidence back," Perlozzo said. "I thought we did that the past two weeks. Now we're two steps forward and one back again. We're going to start all over again."

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