O's to hit road for '07 opener


They'll face Twins in rare start away from home

Britton on roll

September 20, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. -- For just the sixth time in the past 37 years, the Orioles will start a season on the road. The 2007 schedule, which will be released later this month, has the Orioles opening the season against the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome on April 2, a team official confirmed.

The Orioles haven't been scheduled to start the season on the road in a non-strike year since 1980 when the club got things started in Chicago. In 1990 and 1995, the Orioles also opened on the road, but the schedules in both of those seasons were altered due to strike situations.

After three games in Minnesota and three in New York against the Yankees, the Orioles will have their home opener at Camden Yards on April 9 against the Detroit Tigers.

Other highlights of the 2007 schedule include a home-and-home series with the Washington Nationals with the teams playing May 18-20 at RFK Stadium and June 12-14 at Camden Yards. The Orioles and Nationals are expected to rotate hosting Opening Day in the coming years, meaning the Orioles likely will be home to start 2008.

Also in interleague play, the Orioles will host the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks and play road series at Arizona and San Diego. The six games against Arizona are a scheduling quirk because teams traditionally play home-and-home series in interleague play only with regional rivals.

Britton back in groove

When the Orioles recalled Chris Britton on Sept. 4 for his third stint with the club this year, they hoped they were getting a more rested pitcher with a better curve.

In his first outing back, that didn't appear the case as Britton got the loss against the Los Angeles Angels, giving up two hits and a run. But he hasn't given up an earned run since, a streak that spans six outings and four innings, including his first major league save last night.

"I think it is two things. One, his breaking ball is a little better and two, we've been able to stay off him a little, not pitch him as much," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo. "I think he had gotten a little tired. He pitched in winter ball and throughout the season. But we were able to get him some breaks and not pitch him where he had to throw a lot of pitches."

O's mourn Thrift's passing

Perlozzo was one of several Orioles yesterday to express sadness for the loss of the organization's former vice president of operations, Syd Thrift. Thrift passed away on Monday night after undergoing knee replacement surgery. He was 77.

"It's tough," Perlozzo said. "This was a man who had so much energy for the game of baseball, did so many things. It's a sad, sad situation for the game. He always treated me well [and] was always in my corner. Win, lose or draw, he always tried to come up with new ideas and new things to revolutionize the game."

Injury update

Sidelined since Sept. 2 due to a strained groin, reliever LaTroy Hawkins threw a side session yesterday and Perlozzo was so impressed he used him for a scoreless third of an inning last night.

The news wasn't as good on backup catcher Chris Widger, who saw a doctor yesterday in Baltimore about the pinched nerve in his right shoulder. Perlozzo said that Widger will be shut down until he is 100 percent and it is possible that he is done for the season. jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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