Ready or not, Newhan is back


Conine's exit, Patterson's injury press him into duty after DL stint

August 30, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said that ideally, he would have liked to give David Newhan a few more rehabilitation starts before bringing him back up to the major leagues. However, Sunday's trade of Jeff Conine left the Orioles thin in the outfield, leaving them little choice but to activate Newhan.

Newhan, on the disabled list since fracturing his right fibula on April 17, wasn't in the starting lineup last night, but Perlozzo said he will find the veteran some at-bats as part of a likely outfield rotation with converted infielders Brandon Fahey and Fernando Tatis. A shoulder injury that forced out Corey Patterson in the second inning last night created an immediate opening for Newhan, who took over in center field.

"It would always be nice to see him get one or two more games in, but I think we need him right now," Perlozzo said before last night's game. "I just have to find a way to get him playing time. I am not sure how sharp he is. We'll take a look at him to see where he is. It gives us an opportunity to rest Corey Patterson occasionally, gives us somebody who can play left and center field."

Newhan, who turns 33 next week, started his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie on Aug. 19 and batted .235 (4-for-17) with four runs and three RBIs in six games with the Baysox. He said that while he still needs to work on his timing at the plate, his leg feels good.

"The last three nights I faced lefties and at this point, it's `Let's get it going,'" Newhan said. "I feel as prepared as I'll be. The legs feel great and when I get the at-bats, hopefully, I'll help this team win. I don't want to try to do too much, just put the barrel on the ball. It's just a matter of getting in the groove."

Without Conine, the Orioles are left with no right-handed-hitting outfielders. Tatis, normally a third baseman, has played right field once this season, but Perlozzo told third base coach Tom Trebelhorn, who tutors the Orioles' outfielders, to get Tatis some work in left field before games. He'll likely be used there when the Orioles face left-handed pitching.

Penn's spot still unresolved

The Orioles still plan to call up top pitching prospect Hayden Penn when rosters expand Friday. However, what is undecided is when Penn will make his first start of the season for the Orioles.

Perlozzo said there is a chance Penn will start Sunday at Oakland, or if not then, shortly thereafter. But the club hasn't decided if Penn, who started for Triple-A Ottawa on Saturday and was just named the International League Pitcher of the Week, will get another minor league start or pitch a couple of innings in relief before then. The 21-year-old would be going on seven days' rest if he doesn't pitch before Sunday.

The Orioles also haven't decided whether they'll go to a six-man rotation or drop a pitcher to the bullpen to make it five.

"It's one thing to go when you have no days off with six guys in the rotation, but when you have another off day in there, I think it is a little difficult to keep people sharp when they are pitching once a week," Perlozzo said. "It's something that we will work through. The organization will have to decide what they want to do."

Birkins suffers a setback

On the disabled list with left elbow neuritis, Orioles reliever Kurt Birkins had a setback while on a rehab assignment with Bowie. Birkins was scheduled to see doctors yesterday, but his status for the rest of the season is in doubt.

In his last appearance for Bowie on Sunday, Birkins allowed four runs on four hits, including two home runs, in two innings. He reported pain in his elbow after the appearance. Birkins was expected to be called up later this week, but that is now in doubt.

Around the horn

Perlozzo said that with Conine now in Philadelphia, he expects to use Chris Gomez more at first base against left-handed pitching with Kevin Millar serving as the designated hitter. ... The Orioles are expected to hear today if the player they accepted from Philadelphia as part of the Conine deal passes through waivers. ... Backup catcher Chris Widger hurt his back taking a swing in batting practice and wasn't available last night.

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