The Orioles' rotation no longer will include its Opening Day starter.
Manager Sam Perlozzo has assigned Rodrigo Lopez to the bullpen, perhaps using him in the late innings, while keeping Erik Bedard, Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn, Kris Benson and Daniel Cabrera in their current roles. Benson will make Monday's start against the New York Yankees.
"It's very difficult to go with six guys on seven days' rest," Perlozzo said. "He's the only one who can pitch out of the 'pen. And quite honestly, we could use a little help out of the 'pen. Obviously, if something else happens and we need a starter, he'd come in.
"He understood. He knows this year hasn't been like most of the years that he has. He wants an opportunity to start a time or two if it comes up."
Lopez has made 28 starts and one relief appearance this season, going 9-15 with a 5.97 ERA. He's allowed 219 hits in 173 1/3 innings. Lopez's 15 losses and 115 earned runs allowed were tops in the majors entering last night.
"I am pretty disappointed," Lopez said. "I am trying [not] to be upset. I think I know the needs of the team. I know what they want to do, but again, I am not happy and I don't think it's right. But I am trying [not] to be upset. I am just trying to pitch anywhere and I hope I can make another start so I can win 10 games.
"It's definitely the most difficult season of my career. It's been up and down, different things to deal with. I don't blame anybody. I am the one that has got the ball on the mound. Things didn't work the way I wanted them to work."
Lopez can't become a free agent until after the 2007 season, giving him one more year of arbitration, and a team official said he believes the right-hander still has value.
If Lopez remains with the Orioles, rather than being traded or non-tendered, he said he doesn't want to pitch in relief.
"No, that's definitely not something that I want to do," he said. "If they are going to give a chance to new starters, that's OK for the team but not for me. I don't know what's going to happen. It's not something that I want to think about, but right now, it's not a good situation for me."
Reliever LaTroy Hawkins has been told to rest a few more days before attempting to pitch again because of a strained groin muscle. His most recent appearance was Saturday in Oakland.
Backup catcher Chris Widger underwent another magnetic resonance imaging test yesterday that didn't reveal any more damage beyond a bulging disc that's caused a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Widger experienced numbness in his arm whenever he sat down, but said his condition has improved enough that he could play this weekend.
And Corey Patterson swung a bat yesterday, estimating that he used about 70 percent effort, and is beginning strengthening exercises on his right shoulder, which he said is feeling better. Patterson hasn't played since Aug. 29 after spraining his right AC joint in Texas.
"Hopefully it won't be much longer," he said. "I've played with pain before. I know when I can go and when I can't play."
Burres gets promotion
The Orioles purchased left-hander Brian Burres' contract from Triple-A Ottawa and designated catcher Danny Ardoin for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. They also called up reliever Sendy Rleal, who made the club out of spring training and appeared in 39 games before being optioned.
"I found out about three days ago after the last game of the year and I just kind of smiled for the rest of the day and flew home for a couple of days and celebrated with the family," Burres said.
Yanks' Mussina scratched
Mike Mussina has been scratched from tomorrow's start to give his arm more time to recover and will be replaced by Jaret Wright.
Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this story.