Hernandez sees slump as phase


`Just my time to struggle,' catcher says

O's starter vs. Toronto unclear



When asked about his recent slump at the plate, Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez said yesterday that it may just be his turn to go through a rough patch.

In July, Hernandez posted a .188 average with seven RBIs. He hadn't hit lower than .263 or had fewer than 16 RBIs in any other month this season. Hernandez, who was 0-for-1 with two walks yesterday against the New York Yankees, is 13-for-59 (.220) in the Orioles' 21 games since the All-Star break.

"It's just my time to struggle and I've got to find a way to figure it out and the only way to figure it out is to keep working and keep playing," said Hernandez, who added that he is not fatigued nor does he attribute his low hitting numbers to recent high temperatures.

"He's been getting pretty much every fifth day off," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "I think we've done a pretty good job of not wearing him out. I think it's just a matter of him getting back in a groove, getting his timing back."

Hitting coach Terry Crowley said he isn't worried about Hernandez and he expects him to return to form soon.

"I think that as we go along, as he keeps working and shortens his swing up a little bit he'll be fine," said Crowley, who also said Hernandez, who is hitting .261 overall, may be putting extra pressure on himself.

"He's a good RBI guy and I think he feels the additional pressure of letting the team down when he's not getting his hits. So he's kind of heightened that a little bit, and maybe pressing too hard but I think he's going to get a second wind here shortly."

Firming up the rotation

Perlozzo said before yesterday's game that he wants to return order to the Orioles' starting rotation. However, with no clear starter for tomorrow's game in Toronto, that may take a little more time than he would like.

"We need to get the rotation back to a set five," Perlozzo said. "It's been kind of plug a guy in here, plug a guy in here, bring a guy up here. We just need to get back into a solid five rotation and go with it. It's probably going to take us another five or six days to get that done."

Erik Bedard had been set to make tomorrow's 1:07 p.m. start, but Perlozzo said he would like to give him an extra day off. Bruce Chen is to start on Wednesday.

After he pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Ottawa on Thursday, Daniel Cabrera was seen as a possibility for Tuesday, but would be on short rest tomorrow.

Perlozzo also said the team is still unsure when it will call up right-hander Hayden Penn. In his most recent start for Ottawa on Friday, Penn allowed three hits and one run in eight innings. The Orioles will most likely call up Cabrera before Penn.

Setback for Snyder

Brandon Snyder, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2005, is back on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

The injury is the latest sour turn for Snyder. The catcher jumped to a strong start this year at Single-A Delmarva, but he battled nagging injuries and fell into the worst slump of his career. That came as a surprise to the Orioles, who drafted Snyder because he was an unusually mature hitter in high school.

"He was mentally beating himself down really bad," said minor league director David Stockstill.

Snyder was batting .194 when he was demoted to Single-A Aberdeen in late June. Snyder hit better at Aberdeen, where he had excelled in 2005. But another slump dropped his average to .234 and now, his season may be over pending an examination by Orioles doctors.

Delay for Newhan

David Newhan's rehabilitation has been pushed back a week after the outfielder told the team he wasn't 100 percent ready to start baseball activities, Perlozzo said.

Newhan has been out since April 17 when he fractured his right fibula while attempting to steal second base. He was scheduled for a doctor's examination this week to determine if he was ready to begin working out with the Orioles and start a rehab assignment.



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