Payton's return might still be a week away


Hernandez could be back Monday

Guthrie adjusting to reliever's role

April 11, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

While progress is being made in Jay Payton's recovery from a strained left hamstring, the Orioles' outfielder could be more than a week away from returning to the active roster.

Manager Sam Perlozzo made the estimate before last night's game at Camden Yards, saying that Payton is expected to begin a running program within the next few days at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla. He'll play in some games down there, getting as many at-bats as needed, before the Orioles activate him.

Payton is eligible to come off the disabled list today, but the Orioles probably won't make a roster move for the remainder of the current homestand.

"He's been doing some light jogging, some backpedaling, things like that," Perlozzo said. "We've got to wait until he's 100 percent and ready to go. He'll let us know that."

Meanwhile, catcher Ramon Hernandez is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but the Orioles might have him meet the team in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that begins the next night. Hernandez also is in Sarasota while rehabbing a strained left oblique muscle.

"Ramon had a little progress yesterday," Perlozzo said. "He's got minimal discomfort. He's on a throwing and conditioning program."

Guthrie `happy to be here'

Despite being a reliever with the Orioles, Jeremy Guthrie must feel like he's on a starter's schedule.

Guthrie has made only two appearances, throwing a total of 5 2/3 innings after replacing Jaret Wright in Minnesota and against the Detroit Tigers last night. Such is the life of a long reliever. He wants to pitch, but not if it means the starters are getting knocked out early and the Orioles are losing.

"I'm happy to be here," Guthrie said. "My main focus is to stay crisp. I think that's the biggest difference for a guy who's used to starting. When you sit around and go back out there, you need to be sharp."

In the past, Guthrie would have preferred starting in the minors over sitting in a major league bullpen. But not anymore.

"There were times I felt like that, but obviously, at this point, I'm happy," he said. "I feel comfortable. And I feel like I'm doing the things that will help me be successful, even though I'm not starting and pitching with a routine every five days."

Familiar routine

Kevin Millar started at first base last night for the first time this season, with Aubrey Huff shifting into the designated hitter's role. Second baseman Brian Roberts was charged with an error on a throw that skipped past Millar in the sixth inning.

The position change didn't bring as much attention to Millar as his dance on the orange carpet before being introduced during Monday's home opener. It kept showing up on ESPN, and it can be viewed on YouTube, a video-sharing Web site.

"I got 40 text messages later from friends and family," Millar said. "Some good, some bad, some laughing."

Bad ones?

"Some stuff I can't really say," he said. "Just getting ragged on, obviously with the rhythm factor. We knew that was going to be a problem."

Millar was imitating Ray Lewis - paying tribute by using the linebacker's signature dance moves.

"Ray's on my side, hopefully," Millar said. "I'm a Ray Lewis fan. This is about Ray Lewis and his fans in Baltimore. I didn't score a touchdown against the Ravens. I wasn't mocking him by any means.

"I'd like to meet him - hopefully on good terms. Don't hurt me, Ray. Please."

Around the horn

Reliever Scott Williamson still is battling an illness that he said could be a reoccurrence of the bronchitis that shelved him briefly in spring training. "The last six or seven days, I've had a real bad headache and kind of been fatigued a little bit. But I should be fine," he said. Williamson pitched one scoreless inning last night, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out one. ... Bench coach Tom Trebelhorn might rejoin the team tomorrow, "but I'd say it's up in the air," Perlozzo said ... Detroit Tigers general manager David Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland presented Orioles reliever Jamie Walker with his American League championship ring during batting practice.

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