O's place Penn on minors' DL as precaution

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher has missed two starts with soreness in right forearm

Notebook

April 14, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun Reporter

Rather than becoming a solution to the Orioles' pitching crisis, Hayden Penn continues to be a health issue.

Viewing the decision as a precautionary measure, the Orioles placed Penn on the seven-day minor league disabled list yesterday and scratched him from last night's start at Triple-A Norfolk because of soreness in his right forearm.

"We backdated it, and we still think he could pitch five days from now," said Dave Stockstill, director of minor league operations.

Team orthopedist Dr. Andrew Cosgarea most likely will examine Penn this weekend in Baltimore to make sure the problem isn't more serious.

"It's his forearm, and it seems to be cold-related," Stockstill said. "He's got some stiffness in it. It doesn't seem to be anything for us to be too alarmed about."

Penn also was scratched from his previously scheduled start after allowing two runs in five innings in Norfolk's opening game April 5. The Orioles might have recalled him to replace Jaret Wright, who went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sore right shoulder. Instead, long reliever Jeremy Guthrie is expected to take Wright's turn tomorrow.

A bat for the bench

Team executives acknowledged that if the Orioles get through the weekend without too much strain on their pitching staff, they'll likely bring up another hitter for the bench while they're in St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

"There's a good chance that we could do that," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We've got a couple other things going on."

The Orioles would like to add a right-handed hitter, and players being considered from Norfolk include Jon Knott, Ruddy Yan and J.R. House.

Huff's been there

Slow starts are nothing new for Aubrey Huff, so he's hardly in a panic over his first 11 games with the Orioles.

Huff began last night in a 5-for-34 slump that included 11 strikeouts. He was batting .220, 15 points below his career April average, before hitting a two-run double in the first inning that originally was ruled a home run.

"I feel relaxed. I'm just not there yet," he said before the game. "My swing feels a little off balance right now, a little jumpy, but it's fine. We've faced some pretty tough pitching. But I'll be fine. I've started off a lot worse."

Last year, Huff batted .176 through the first two months before ranking eighth in the American League with a .389 average in June. The weather heats up, and so does Huff.

"It's unbelievable for me," he said. "I can't understand it or explain it. For some reason, the first month of the season, if I'm at .250, I'm happy."

Perlozzo said he believes that Huff is pressing.

"He's just anxious," Perlozzo said. "He's rushing to get to the ball. He's trying to pull everything right now, and that means you're a little anxious and trying to get it done too early in the count. He'll be fine. He just needs to relax and move the ball around the field a little bit."

Huff's slow starts have become so routine, other players tease him about it.

"Aubrey always [stinks] in April," Jay Gibbons said. "I've watched him for seven years. He's terrible in April for some reason. I always used to make fun of him in Tampa. It's like, `Why don't you start hitting earlier?' At the end of the year, it's always .280 with 25 or 30 [home runs].

"I'm right there with him. Him and I can confide a lot together because we both struggle a little bit early. But at the end of the day, you just look at the back of the baseball card and it's pretty much the same numbers every year."

Cold-weather crush

Huff isn't the only Oriole who has crushed a ball and seen it lose momentum in the heavy Camden Yards air.

It has happened to others, including Kevin Millar, who came within a few feet of a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Wednesday's game. The Orioles lost in 12.

"It's been awful," Huff said. "I hit mine good, and I thought it would go farther than it did. It' s not a very good park right now, but I hear in the summertime it gets pretty good."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Stephen Whyno contributed to this article.

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