Penn falls ill on eve of start

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher has appendicitis

O's call Loewen to fill spot in rotation

May 23, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

SEATTLE -- While the rest of his teammates were slipping on their uniforms and preparing for last night's series opener against Seattle, Orioles pitcher Hayden Penn was at a local hospital to have surgery for appendicitis.

Penn, the 21-year-old right-hander who was scheduled to pitch tonight in Daniel Cabrera's spot in the rotation, reported to the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field complaining of stomach problems. He was redirected to an area hospital after speaking to team officials, where doctors made the discovery.

The Orioles will place Penn on the 15-day disabled list today and recall Adam Loewen, a 22-year-old left-hander, from Double-A Bowie. Team officials are unsure how long Penn will be out.

Perlozzo met with pitching coach Leo Mazzone before last night's game to discuss contingency plans, not knowing Penn's status. The club had originally hoped that Penn just had a common stomach ailment.

"Hopefully, it will just check out that maybe it's something that he ate and he'll be fine," Perlozzo said before the game.

The Orioles could reach into their bullpen and use veteran John Halama or Kurt Birkins, who was a starter at Triple-A Ottawa, but it appears more likely that Kris Benson, who was originally scheduled to start tomorrow night's game, would go tonight on three days' rest.

Perlozzo and Mazzone spoke to Benson during batting practice and asked him to adjust his throwing routine, perhaps indicating that he would be the choice to start tonight against Joel Pineiro.

It is also an outside possibility that Loewen could start, but that's unlikely, given that he has to take a cross-country flight to join his teammates today. For Double-A Bowie, Loewen was 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA. He had given up 46 hits and 26 walks in 49 2/3 innings.

Loewen, the Orioles' first-round selection in the 2002 draft, last pitched on Friday, going six innings and allowing one hit and one unearned run.

Penn, who was 2-2 with a 1.48 ERA for Triple-A Ottawa and holding opposing hitters to a .194 average, was recalled on Sunday. With Cabrera on the disabled list because of inflammation in his right shoulder, team officials were hoping that Penn would make two starts - tonight and Sunday in Los Angeles - in Cabrera's spot and if he fared well, he'd likely remain in the rotation.

Bruce Chen and Rodrigo Lopez both have ERAs over eight, and Penn would have been the candidate to take one of their spots if they continue to struggle.

Now, Orioles officials have to hope that Loewen will be able to hold down the fort.

Roberts getting close

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts put himself through a strenuous workout yesterday at Safeco Field that went well enough for Perlozzo to say that his return to the lineup is imminent.

"He's getting close," Perlozzo said. "There's no question about it. It could be one day, it could be two. I think he's pretty close."

Roberts, who strained his groin against these same Mariners on April 29, was eligible to come off the disabled list early last week. However, he still felt some pain in his groin that delayed his return.

The All-Star second baseman was on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on May 17 and 18, going 1-for-5 with a walk. He experienced some soreness in the area of his injury and the Orioles have decided to proceed with caution.

"I think he gets better every day," Perlozzo said. "The trainer said that he went through his exercises with a little more confidence today. That's a good sign. If he still feels it just a little bit and he's a little uncomfortable with that, then we are better to wait and see if it will go away."

Patterson's lucky 7

Center fielder Corey Patterson is one of the Orioles that Perlozzo has used in the leadoff spot with Roberts out, but the manager said last night that he prefers hitting him down in the order. The numbers show why.

Patterson was 16-for-42 (.381) while hitting seventh, and 14-for-62 (.226) in every other spot in the order.

"I like him where he's at right now," Perlozzo said.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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