It's first things first, Gibbons says


Former right fielder makes most of chances at first base and left

February 23, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- While Jay Gibbons' power display in batting practice earned him a loud ovation yesterday, his first couple of workouts at first base have been largely inconclusive.

He has looked mostly comfortable at a position that he hasn't played regularly since he was in the minor leagues, but Gibbons and Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said they won't be able to get a good read on the situation until the exhibition season begins.

"Anybody can go out and take ground balls," Perlozzo said. "We all can do that. You can stick a glove on a lot of people and look halfway decent. It's game situations, reacting during a game if there is a hitter up there. I want to take a look at all of them, not just Gibby."

Gibbons, who was the Orioles' starting right fielder before Nick Markakis took the job, also has been taking fly balls in left field, meaning he is basically learning two positions this spring.

"[Perlozzo] just says every day is going to be different: `You might be taking fly balls one day and ground balls the next day,' " Gibbons said. "I'm the player, he's the manager, [so] I listen. ... He's wearing me out out there. But he is telling me to pace myself. It's not like I've played a lot in the big leagues at either one of them. It's going to be an adjustment, and I'm going to work hard to adjust to it."

Gibbons said he hasn't had any extensive talks with Perlozzo or management about where he will play this season.

"We'll just see what happens with management and what direction they're going to go," he said.

Benson starts rehab

Orioles pitcher Kris Benson, who has been sidelined with a partially torn right rotator cuff, started his rehabilitation program yesterday. Though team officials aren't commenting on the program, Benson said it is similar to what he has done in the past to strengthen the shoulder.

"Today, we just did some light dumbbell exercises, just trying to strengthen up everything around the rotator cuff," Benson said. "[Stimulation] and ice tomorrow. [The] next few days will be the same, just increasing the weight slowly.

"I'll be evaluating myself every day," he said. "I just want to make sure that every day I come to the park, I feel a little bit better. Hopefully, by Week 2, Week 3 or Week 4, it will totally go away and we can start with the throwing program."

O's raising screen

The Orioles are hoping to have the screen behind home plate at Camden Yards raised before the club's April 9 home opener against the Detroit Tigers, a development that will be welcomed by players.

With the family section located directly behind home, several players have complained that the current screen, which is 17 feet high, was not tall enough to provide adequate protection. The wives of current Orioles Gibbons and Chris Gomez and former Oriole Jason Grimsley were hit by foul balls the past couple of seasons.

"I just think it's a no-brainer to change it," said Gibbons, whose wife, Laura, was hit in the side by one of his line drives last season. She was bruised, but not seriously hurt. "We've had some injuries and obviously after the situation with my wife last year, I expressed my concerns directly. They said that they are going to take care of the problem and I know that they are people of their word."

Around the horn

The Orioles have decided not to sign Kazuaki Minami, the Japanese right-hander whom they worked out Monday. "Right now, we don't see having a spot for him in the organization, but if that changes, we'll get in contact with him," vice president Jim Duquette said. ... Perlozzo said he is not committed to having two left-handers in the bullpen and will likely take the best arm for the seventh spot. ... The Orioles will have intrasquad scrimmages Tuesday and Wednesday. ... Nonroster invitee Ruddy Yan, a 25-year-old outfielder, reported to camp yesterday after having visa problems.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.