J. Lopez adjusts to life after O's

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

August 12, 2006|By DAVID SELIG | DAVID SELIG,SUN REPORTER

BOSTON -- Getting comfortable in his new clubhouse at Fenway Park yesterday afternoon, Javy Lopez said it was "weird" to be facing the Orioles just one week after they traded him.

But it gave Lopez a chance to say goodbye to some former teammates he missed when he left abruptly last Friday and to clarify his comments about being unhappy in Baltimore.

"The main reason I was kind of upset with the team wasn't because I didn't get traded before the trading deadline," Lopez said before last night's game. "The main reason was because I didn't get to play. I heard that [Jay] Gibbons would be the new designated hitter [when he returned from the disabled list], so that put me in limbo."

Lopez, 35, said he was worried a lack of playing time would make it difficult for him to get a contract when he becomes a free agent in the offseason. Lopez said he became "frustrated" after the Orioles told him they'd discuss a contract extension in spring training, but never approached him.

"In the offseason when they signed Ramon Hernandez, I was kind of upset because he was going to be the No. 1 catcher," Lopez said. "They wanted me to play first base and I told them clearly that in order for me to play first base I need insurance - an extension."

With Jason Varitek on the disabled list, Lopez has an opportunity to play a significant role in Boston's pennant chase and to prove he can help a team as a catcher next season.

Lopez struggled initially after the trade, going hitless in his first 10 at-bats with Boston. But the 15-year veteran went 2-for-4 with an RBI last night and has six hits in his past 12 at-bats. In addition, he said he's more confident now that he's catching Boston's starters for a second time through the rotation.

Asked how he felt about his time with the Orioles, Lopez offered one explanation why his former team didn't compete for a division title in his 2 1/2 years with the club.

"You compare the pitching staff here [in Boston] and the Yankees' [staff] with Baltimore, and it's just superior," Lopez said. "Pitching is the most important part of the team, and unfortunately that's probably one of the big keys Baltimore never had."

Benson returns today

Scheduled to pitch today for the first time since July 25, Kris Benson said his right elbow feels as good as it has since May. Benson was placed on the disabled list Aug. 4 (retroactive to July 26) with elbow tendinitis.

Benson threw bullpen sessions Monday and Wednesday, saying he felt no pain afterward. He went 0-4 in five July starts and said the injury hindered his control.

With Benson joining the rotation, Rodrigo Lopez was pushed into the bullpen and worked 4 2/3 innings last night.

Comcast: Rates rising after MASN deal

As expected, Comcast Cable will impose a $2 monthly rate increase on customers in the Baltimore-Washington area after agreeing to carry the Orioles-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

For more than a year, Comcast resisted carrying MASN, which broadcasts Washington Nationals games and will broadcast Orioles games starting next season. But the network and the cable giant reached an agreement last week that will make MASN available to 1.6 million Comcast customers starting in September. Over the next two years, Comcast will offer MASN to an additional 600,000 customers in areas farther from the Baltimore-Washington region.

Comcast officials had said all along that such an agreement would probably lead to a rate increase for customers.

"MASN's programming is very expensive to distribute - it will cost literally hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade to provide MASN to our 2.2 million cable customers," Comcast executive vice president David Cohen said in a statement. "As we have stated publicly and in official testimony for more than a year, these are costs that ultimately will have to be borne by cable customers."

david.selig@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.

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