Battered Penn stays in rotation


Lopez's arm soreness contributes to decision

Hawkins still sidelined

September 19, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With Rodrigo Lopez experiencing minor soreness in his pitching arm, the Orioles have decided to keep struggling rookie Hayden Penn in the rotation for at least one more start.

Penn will start tomorrow's series finale against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo acknowledged that he went both ways on the decision before choosing to give Penn another opportunity.

In three starts, Penn is 0-3 with a 27.00 ERA. A 21-year-old right-hander who is one of the organization's top pitching prospects, Penn has given up 24 hits and 22 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.

"For me, I wasn't sure that he'd rebound and it wasn't that important - three more starts," Perlozzo said. "[But] you have to let the season play out a bit. We'll give him a shot. We've been giving Rodrigo his share of opportunities, too."

In the visiting clubhouse on Saturday in Detroit, a day after Penn gave up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, Perlozzo had a 20-minute meeting with the pitcher to offer support and gauge where his confidence was. A decision about whether Penn would get another start wasn't made right away, but it became easier when Lopez complained of soreness in his right biceps.

Perlozzo was planning to send Lopez out for a third inning in the Orioles' 12-8 victory over the Tigers on Sunday, but he decided against it when the demoted starter informed pitching coach Leo Mazzone of the pain in his arm.

Lopez was shut down yesterday, but said he is feeling much better. He'll throw today to test the arm.

"I feel good today," Lopez said. "It was probably a little fatigue. I've been throwing a lot, playing catch a lot since I was sent to the bullpen. It's probably nothing."

Hawkins wait goes on

LaTroy Hawkins rejoined the team here yesterday, but wasn't available to pitch because he continues to feel the effects of a groin injury. Hawkins will throw before tonight's game, and Perlozzo said that if all goes well, Hawkins could be available in tomorrow's series finale.

The Orioles are sending backup catcher Chris Widger back to Baltimore to get the pinched nerve in his right shoulder examined. Perlozzo said Widger's condition was getting worse, so the club decided on the move.

Hit or miss

Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez stood in front of his locker before Sunday's game, lamenting the drastic difference in his offensive numbers at home compared with those on the road. Then he went out at Comerica Park and went 4-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.

However, even with his first four-hit performance this season, Hernandez was hitting .212 away from Camden Yards, the second worst road average in the league among qualifiers. At home, his .333 average is the 10th best in the American League.

"I think it's one of those years, where you do good some places and not in some others," said Hernandez, who was 2-for-4 last night. "All I am trying to do is even that out. It's weird, because last year I struggled against lefties and this year I haven't. Sometimes things happen that I can't explain. It's the game of baseball, I guess. It's something that I hope I'll fix next year, but it's part of the game. Things like that keep it interesting."

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