Fahey in slump

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

hit feels `weird'

Oriole is hitting .170 since break

Gibbons scratched from lineup

September 11, 2006|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

Reaching first base Saturday after his run-scoring single in the seventh inning should have brought great joy to Orioles left fielder Brandon Fahey, not a conflicted feeling. But that's what happens when you're mired in a lengthy slump and almost expected to fail in the clutch.

Fahey is batting .170 since the All-Star break after going 0-for-3 and being hit by a pitch in yesterday's 9-4 loss to New York Yankees at Camden Yards. He was 4-for-43 before lining a pitch into center field in Saturday's game.

"When I got a hit, it seemed like a big deal, and usually, getting a hit isn't a big deal. It felt kind of weird," he said.

"I was happier than normal because I got a hit. So it was a good feeling, but it's also not a good feeling."

Fahey, who struck out to end yesterday's game, says he isn't having trouble seeing the ball. He isn't uncomfortable at the plate. He's just making outs on a regular basis.

In Fahey's first at-bat yesterday, he bounced into a force after Ramon Hernandez reached on a one-out single. Only his speed prevented a double play. He grounded out to end the fifth after Hernandez hit the first of two homers.

"If you got a hit every time ... it just doesn't happen," he said. "Everybody goes through these times. Some are longer than others. ... You've just got to deal with it and don't get too down on yourself. It's not the end of the world."

The end of the season will come at a good time for Fahey, who also is dealing with a health issue.

"Some of it is his hand still. He's not 100 percent from when he hurt it two months ago. He's kind of been nursing that all year long," manager Sam Perlozzo said.

"And it's a long season; it's the major leagues. We kind of pushed him up here. He's facing good big league pitching on a daily basis, so it's a little different. But I don't think you could ask any more of an infielder that's played that good in the outfield."

The rookie said he has noticed that teams are pitching him differently after seeing him multiple times. The good hitters eventually will adjust.

"You can hit a ball hard and get out, and you look back at the scouting reports and it'll say that they got you out on this pitch," Fahey said. "Or they can throw you a breaking ball and you dribble one through the hole and they'll say you got a hit on a breaking ball, and they're not going to throw many breaking balls. It's weird. It's all about what you did against them, no matter if you hit it hard or whatever."

Gibbons taken out of lineup

Jay Gibbons was a late scratch from the lineup because of spasms in the trapezius muscle in his right shoulder. He tried hitting in the indoor cage before Perlozzo made the change.

"He wasn't 100 percent with it [Saturday]," Perlozzo said.

Kevin Millar, originally expected to start at first base, became the designated hitter. Chris Gomez moved from third base to first, and Fernando Tatis started at third. Melvin Mora had requested a day off, but he was available to play.

Meanwhile, reliever LaTroy Hawkins threw in the bullpen and is getting closer to returning. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 because of a groin injury.

Corey Patterson can pinch run, but a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder keeps him from hitting and throwing.

O's must decide on Patterson

Patterson is arbitration-eligible after the season, and the Orioles must decide whether to offer him a contract. He's making $2.8 million this year.

Asked whether he envisions Patterson as his starting center fielder next year, Perlozzo said, "I think he's good enough to be, but I can't pencil him in because it's an organizational-type thing.

"If he plays this well next year, then he's legit."

Newhan not assured of returning

David Newhan continues to play every day in center field while Patterson is unavailable, but he's not assured of a spot on next year's roster.

"He's just one of those guys that has to earn everything he gets," Perlozzo said. "He's a guy who never has a job but ends up with a job. It depends what we do in the winter, but he'll probably come back in the spring and have to win a job again. I still like him."

Newhan missed almost five months after fracturing the fibula in his right leg in April. Before yesterday, he had hit safely in eight of 11 games since being activated.

"He's done much better than I expected, being off that long and having a short rehab," Perlozzo said.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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