Stiff neck joins Gibbons' list

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

His chart of '06 injuries grows

Perlozzo thanks Lopez for filling in

September 13, 2006|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun Reporter

If Jay Gibbons can't turn his head, he can't turn on a fastball, which is keeping him out of the Orioles' lineup for an indefinite period.

Gibbons missed another game last night because of spasms in his right trapezius muscle. He's going to switch medications to see if the results are any better.

"I've got a little neck issue, something to do with the nerve," Gibbons said.

"I usually get a little back spasm up here twice, three times a year, and it's usually two days and it's done. But this is the third day and I'm not ready to play, so I'll change my medication and hopefully it'll get knocked out, the irritation, whenever that happens, tomorrow or the next day."

Gibbons would attempt to play if he could move his head to the right. He remained in the lineup with a painful knee that's caused him to adjust his hitting approach at the plate. But this health issue can't be hidden. "We've just got to get that inflammation out of there," he said.

"I can't do anything. I can hardly drive."

The injury surfaced three weeks ago, and Gibbons aggravated it Sunday while taking batting practice.

"I got a shock down my arm and I stopped hitting. I just knew the next day it was going to be sore, but I didn't know it was going to be this sore," he said.

"Other than that, I'm fine. My knee hurts. I guess you knew that. I'll try to get something else by the end of the year. We've got three weeks left."

Benson back; Lopez gets thanks

Kris Benson returned to Camden Yards yesterday after missing Monday's start with strep throat. He played catch in the outfield and might throw on the side today, but it's unknown when he'll return to the rotation.

"We'll see where he's at from there," Perlozzo said.

Perlozzo invited Rodrigo Lopez into his office before batting practice and thanked the right-hander for taking Monday's assignment on short notice and turning in six strong innings.

"I just wanted to tell him I appreciated what he did, the effort that he gave us," Perlozzo said.

Lopez isn't sure if he'll make another start with the Orioles or return to his bullpen duties.

"They haven't made a decision. I haven't heard anything," he said. "So far I think I'm still in the bullpen."

Said Perlozzo: "I pretty much know what Rodrigo can do. Some things might change. I told him I'd do everything I could to get him in as much as I could. If it looks like we need him to start again, I don't have a problem doing that. We'll take these things a day at a time. He's been good about taking the ball when you ask him."

Lopez found out he was replacing Benson around 3 p.m., giving him time to prepare mentally for the assignment.

Perlozzo went to the bullpen with Lopez at 94 pitches and the Orioles leading 5-2. The Yankees scored six runs in the seventh off rookie James Hoey.

"I knew that was my last inning," Lopez said. "I ran to the dugout feeling satisfied with myself. But it was just one of those nights when you pitch good, but things don't work out for you."

Perlozzo defends strategy

Given a night to think about it, Perlozzo said he still would have used Hoey in the same manner Monday night. Hoey faced nine batters before Perlozzo took him out of the game.

"I thought he had the best stuff," Perlozzo said. "I talked it over with Mike [Flanagan] and Jim [Duquette] and they were excited about how good he was throwing. They told me there was absolutely nothing they would have done differently."

Perlozzo also is likely to take another look at Fernando Tatis in left field. Tatis misplayed a fly ball with the bases loaded, allowing three runs to score and erasing a 5-4 lead.

"Tatis is a guy that, when he came up we wanted to find out about him a little bit," Perlozzo said. "He was a third baseman, but his role on this team, if he makes the club next year, would be as a utility guy. We have a third baseman. He would have to play multiple positions."

Around the horn

Boston's Lenny DiNardo (1-2, 7.42 ERA) will pitch in the series finale tomorrow.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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