Chen's turn skipped again

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

But side session with Mazzone boosts left-hander's confidence

May 13, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN REPORTER

Bruce Chen knows the only way to reverse a horrible start to his season is by pitching.

He's just waiting for the Orioles to give him another chance.

Chen's next start has been pushed back twice, forcing him to wait until Tuesday's game against the Boston Red Sox. The second adjustment was caused by Thursday night's rainout.

"There's nothing I can do," he said. "I can't just cry."

A weaker man might have been brought to tears by his first seven appearances.

Chen is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA, and opponents are batting .359 against him. In his last start on May 4, the Texas Rangers battered him for seven runs and 11 hits in four innings. Pitching in relief Sunday in Boston, Chen gave up one run, two hits and two walks.

As the struggling fifth starter in the rotation, he was the logical choice to be skipped and bumped. "Let the guys who are pitching good for us be on schedule," he said.

If the Orioles are looking for encouragement, they might have found it in their bullpen Thursday, where Chen thew a side session with pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

"Leo came in and they were all smiles," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "[Chen] felt real good about himself. He was perfectly fine with it.

"I think that relieved him. He went, `Wow, I can still pitch. I can hit my spots.' They got over a small mechanical problem. Leo said he never missed a spot.

"Mentally, it was a big boost for him and it was good to see him do that. If we're going to have a chance, he's got to go in there with a good mental attitude."

J. Lopez ready to return

There won't be any drama tomorrow when Javy Lopez is eligible to come off the disabled list. No uncertainty over the condition of his back. No delays in writing his name in the lineup.

He'll be ready.

"I've been ready," he said.

Lopez didn't exactly embrace the chance to go on the disabled list, figuring he would be ready to play before the 15 days expired. But he hadn't played since April 27 when the Orioles put him on the disabled list eight days later.

"A rest is nice," he said, "but then you want to play."

That's the only way to end an 0-for-14 slump.

Mora back in lineup

Third baseman Melvin Mora returned to the lineup after being scratched Wednesday because of a lower-back strain. He was scheduled to play Thursday if the game hadn't been postponed.

"He said he was good enough to play [Thursday] night," Perlozzo said. "I assume he's better today."

Meanwhile, second baseman Brian Roberts ran in the outfield yesterday for the first time since going on the disabled list April 30 with a strained left groin. He ran on a treadmill the previous day, having been forced indoors because of the weather.

"I didn't get a bad report," Perlozzo said, "so that's good."

Head trainer Richie Bancells said Roberts isn't experiencing soreness, but he considered a Monday return "very optimistic."

"I don't know if it will be that day," Bancells said, "but it will be close."

Graduation day

Perlozzo might be a late arrival for today's game because he'll be attending the graduation of his son Eric at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

If the weather is bad and the ceremony is moved indoors, the delay could make Perlozzo rush to get back here. He estimated that the drive takes about 1 1/2 hours.

"I'm tickled to death. I'm proud of him," Perlozzo said.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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