The Orioles decided not to wait for the results of pitcher Daniel Cabrera's magnetic resonance imaging test before placing him on the disabled list yesterday. Knowing he had inflammation in his right shoulder made the decision an easy one.
Cabrera left Sunday's start while warming up in the fifth inning, unable to continue because of tightness behind his shoulder. The MRI, which showed a strained muscle but no structural damage, wasn't scheduled until 4 p.m. yesterday, and the Orioles already had recalled reliever Chris Britton from Double-A Bowie.
"We've got to calm the inflammation down and then start some strengthening exercises for him, so that's probably going to be long enough to miss a couple starts," manager Sam Perlozzo said. The Orioles can skip Cabrera's next turn because of Thursday's open date, which keeps the other starters on normal rest. They don't need another starter until May 23 in Seattle.
Triple-A Ottawa right-hander Hayden Penn is the primary candidate to take Cabrera's spot. Perlozzo also mentioned left-handers John Halama and Kurt Birkins. They both have started in the past, though Birkins did it in the minors. Perlozzo said he doesn't believe Cabrera was injured most of the season, since the pitcher's velocity was good before Sunday's start. Those suspicions were raised because Cabrera has walked 39 batters in 41 1/3 innings.
Britton appeared in four games with the Orioles earlier this season, posting a 5.79 ERA in 4 2/3 innings. He was 1-0 with an 0.79 ERA and two saves at Bowie, walking three and striking out 18 in 11 1/3 innings.
"He did a decent job for us the last time he was here," Perlozzo said. "He threw strikes. It was his turn, I guess."
Britton, who threw two scoreless innings last night, was told yesterday morning that the Orioles needed him. The Baysox had returned from Trenton, N.J., and weren't scheduled to play.
"I was surprised I came back up this quick," he said. "This year I've been here and there, here and there. I haven't really had a chance to get settled. But this is where you want to be."
Hernandez plays on
Catcher Ramon Hernandez has started nine straight games, and 19 of the past 20, which is exactly the way he wants it.
"I take care of myself every day and I like to play every day," he said. "Right now I feel very good. I've been working very hard. I like to see how far I can go. I love to push myself hard and see how many games I can catch and see how my body feels. That's how you really get to know your body."
Hernandez began last night hitting .341 (14-for-41) with three homers and seven RBIs in 11 games this month, after a 4-for-41 stretch to end April. Perlozzo checks on him periodically to make sure he's fresh.
"Once in a while he'll ask, `How are you feeling?' But it doesn't matter if I'm tired. I'm never going to tell him that I need a day off," Hernandez said.
"I like to play. I like to be out there every day."
And he'll still push for his starts once the intense humidity hits the Baltimore area.
"I will figure out a way to play," he said. "If my body's dragging, I'm tired or I can't move, I'll take a little water, a little Powerade, whatever I need to do. A lot of sleep, whatever will make myself be out there, I will do it.
"When you don't play, you don't have a chance to do anything. You never know what you're missing when you don't play. You might go 4-for-4 that day. The day you don't play, that might be your best day ever. I don't want to miss that."
Perlozzo pointed out that open dates on the schedule and a postponement have provided rest for Hernandez without him leaving the lineup. "He's not been abused by any stretch," Perlozzo said.
T. Williams bruised
Todd Williams walked out of the trainer's room with his left hand wrapped in ice after being hit by a ball during Sunday's game, but X-rays didn't show any broken bones and he was available to pitch last night.
Williams escaped with only a bruise to the palm side of his wrist. "It's sore, but it's going to be fine," he said.