Perlozzo stalls Penn decision


Manager meets with rookie pitcher, but Wednesday start still in question


September 17, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

DETROIT -- Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo met with struggling rookie pitcher Hayden Penn for about 20 minutes before last night's game, but no decision has been reached about whether Penn will make his next start.

Perlozzo said he just wanted to gauge the mind-set of his pitcher, who was hammered for the third straight start in the Orioles' 17-2 loss here Friday night, before making a decision.

"I felt like I needed to have a little chat with him just to see where he was coming from, with his mental state and what's been going on," Perlozzo said. "It's obvious that this has not been the Hayden Penn that we know. I wanted to relax him a little bit and tell him that I am still in his corner. He's a young guy."

Perlozzo said he expects to reach a decision in the next couple of days if Penn will start Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. If Penn doesn't pitch, Perlozzo said Rodrigo Lopez would throw in his place.

"My gut feeling is I'll still start, but we'll see," Penn said.

The 21-year-old right-hander is 0-3 with a 27.00 ERA and has given up 22 earned runs and 24 hits in just 7 1/3 innings. On Friday, he went 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs to the Detroit Tigers. He acknowledged that he is trying too hard, trying to be perfect.

Pitching coach Leo Mazzone said he doesn't think Penn's troubles can be attributed to nerves.

"I don't see that," Mazzone said. "I see some pitches down the middle a little too much. ... He's got to locate better. That [isn't] overwhelmed - that's execution."

Gibbons sits again

A day after making his return to the lineup after five days off because of a pinched nerve, Orioles designated hitter Jay Gibbons was back on the bench for last night's game.

Perlozzo said he sat Gibbons because left-hander Nate Robertson was on the mound for Detroit. Perlozzo also said Gibbons could be used sporadically the rest of the season.

"He's obviously not 100 percent," Perlozzo said. "His neck is a lot better, [but] he still has the knee problem. We're just going to sporadically let him play and sit him, just try to get him through the season and try to get him healthy."

In other injury news, further tests on reliever LaTroy Hawkins' injured groin didn't reveal anything new, and Hawkins is expected to rejoin the team tomorrow in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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