Gibbons takes batting practice

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

On mend, outfielder may join Baysox, then Keys

Bedard falls ill

Notebook

July 22, 2006|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- During the past few weeks, Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons sprinted, cut on turf and did everything he could to "blow out" his injured right knee.

It didn't blow out, so he's ready to play again.

"I feel like I did as much as I can," Gibbons said, "and the next step is getting on the field and see how it feels."

Gibbons, who has played in just two games since first tearing his posterior cruciate ligament when he ran into a wall May 26, took batting practice here yesterday.

He hopes to work out with the team again today, then fly back to Baltimore tonight and join the Double-A Bowie Baysox for tomorrow's game. He likely will play for the Single-A Frederick Keys on Monday through Wednesday and, if all goes well, could be back with the Orioles when they return to Camden Yards on Friday.

Initially, the Orioles will use him at designated hitter and it is unclear when and if he'll return to right field. In his absence, rookie Nick Markakis switched from left to right and has excelled defensively.

"I am probably going to ease into playing the field. Obviously I don't want to jump right back into it. I haven't played in the field in a while," Gibbons said. "[Markakis] has done a good job out there and I just think it would be smart maybe to DH for a little bit and then get back into it."

It's possible Gibbons could eventually return to first base, his original position but one he hasn't played for more than 30 games in a big league season.

"It's like starting over. I am not even worrying about that right now," he said. "I am worried about just playing, helping the team and driving in runs."

If there are plans for him to be the regular first baseman next year, Gibbons said he'd like to at least play there occasionally later this season. But Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said that's not an immediate concern.

"I'd hate to just rush him over there without working him out for several days," Perlozzo said. "Again, we'll just take a look at him and see where he's at."

Food poisoning shuffle

Erik Bedard's encounter with a bad sushi meal Thursday night here not only caused him to be scratched from last night's start, but his food poisoning also rearranged the pitching rotation.

Russ Ortiz was rushed into an emergency start and Bedard's turn was pushed back to tomorrow afternoon. Kris Benson will pitch Tuesday in Kansas City and Adam Loewen, who relieved Ortiz in last night's first inning, will start against the Royals on Wednesday night. Loewen originally was supposed to start tomorrow.

"It is [frustrating] because I want to stay on a five-day rotation," said Bedard, who has won six starts in a row. "It's going to push me to eight."

Tatis returns

Third baseman Fernando Tatis was recalled from Triple-A Ottawa yesterday, his first regular-season trip to a big league clubhouse since he played for the Montreal Expos in 2003.

"I'm very happy to be in the big leagues one more time," said Tatis, who hit .298 with seven homers and 37 RBIs in 90 games for Ottawa after spending two years away from the game. "Baseball's a [big] part of my life. I'm just glad to be back here."

Tatis, 31, will have a bench role and could spell Melvin Mora on occasion. Last night, Tatis pinch hit for designated hitter Kevin Millar in the ninth inning and grounded out.

To make room for Tatis, the team outrighted Howie Clark to Ottawa. Clark had one hit in seven at-bats with the Orioles.

"We had a hard time getting him some time," Perlozzo said. "If you've got a guy sitting around too long, you might as well just go ahead and get a fresh guy up here."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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