Trembley says R. Hernandez `looked tired'

O's manager meets with catcher after sitting him 2 straight games

Notebook

September 23, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

Arlington, Texas -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley met with Ramon Hernandez on Friday and explained to the catcher why he was held out of the lineup on consecutive days.

"I think we had to share some things," said Trembley, who described the meeting as long and positive. "I like Ramon. I think we'll get it all straightened out. Obviously, there are some things that he could do better or be better about."

Trembley didn't say what was discussed with Hernandez, who returned to the lineup last night after being held out for the first two games in this series against the Texas Rangers. However, the manager dropped plenty of hints that it was about the player's hustle and effort.

"I'm very interested to see how Ramon plays tonight. I'm confident that he will play with some enthusiasm and hustle and give us a good game," Trembley said before the game. "I was basically waiting for him to come and talk to me and ask me why [he wasn't starting], and I told him why. Ramon is going to finish the year off strong and go home this winter and get in great shape and he's going to come next year and have a banner season."

Asked why he held Hernandez out of the lineup in favor of J.R. House on Thursday and Gustavo Molina on Friday, Trembley said, "He looked tired to me."

Hernandez, who entered last night hitting .248 with eight home runs and 56 RBIs in what has been an injury-marred season, has been criticized this season for his lackadaisical play. On Wednesday, New York Yankees broadcasters were critical of his failure to slide into second base on a failed hit-and-run.

Trembley wouldn't say whether it was coincidence that Hernandez was held out of the starting lineup the next two days. Asked if it had to do with the catcher's effort, Trembley repeated, "He looked tired to me. I think he needed a break ... to kind of step back somewhat."

Hernandez said he wasn't benched for disciplinary reasons.

"I think ... he wants to see some different players," said Hernandez, who also isn't expected to start today's series finale. "He's got to watch people and see what's going to happen next year."

Trembley said last month that he would like to see Hernandez get in better shape for next season, something that the catcher has vowed to do. Hernandez, who hit .275 with 23 home runs and 91 RBIs in 2006, strained his left oblique in spring training and started the season on the disabled list. He has battled injuries almost all season.

While not speaking specifically about Hernandez, Trembley let it known before the game that lack of hustle won't be tolerated.

"It hurts when I don't see [hustle]. It hurts me just as the Average Joe on the street who loves the game," he said. "It's not what I expect from my players as a major league manager and as somebody who is trying to re-establish the tradition and the history of the Baltimore Orioles. It's certainly not something I'm going to accept from anyone, let alone someone who has much more to give.

"We don't need any attention drawn to ourselves by anything negative. If we're going to get the attention coming down the last few games, it should be by playing hard and doing things right and being professional, being a big leaguer. When guys aren't doing that, I don't care if they played three days or three months or 15 years. I'm going to tell them. I think these guys are aware of that. There's only so much you can do besides talk. I think you just have to not play people."

Guthrie close

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of a strained left oblique, threw a pain-free bullpen session before last night's game and pronounced himself "ready to go."

The rookie right-hander could start Wednesday or Thursday, Trembley said.

"I think he'll be all right," Trembley said. "We'll see how he feels [today] before making a final decision."

Baez still deciding

Trembley said he spoke to injured reliever Danys Baez on Friday and Baez told him that he hasn't decided whether he'll have ligament transplant surgery in his right elbow or try to rehabilitate the injury.

Baez, who was shut down with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, got a second opinion from renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who offered the same diagnosis as Orioles team doctors.

"[Andrews] said that you can rehab it, but the likelihood is you're going to have to take care of it sooner or later," said Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "The ligament is in trouble."

MacPhail said Baez is expected to decide in the next couple of days whether he'll have the surgery. If he does , Baez will miss all of next season, joining injured closer Chris Ray on the sideline. Ray had Tommy John surgery in mid-August, and it was performed by Andrews.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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