Cintron makes most of first start with O's

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

May 18, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

After receiving only one at-bat since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk last Sunday, Alex Cintron made his first start at shortstop for the Orioles last night. He celebrated by going 4-for-4 from the ninth spot in the order.

Cintron, who singled in all four trips to the plate, signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Opening Day, after the Chicago Cubs released him, and batted .288 in 16 games with the Tides.

"It's tough decisions you have to make in life," he said. "I think it was good to go down there [Norfolk] and play every day and show I was healthy. For my mind-set, it was really good. I really appreciate that happening, for the Orioles to give me a chance to be part of the organization."

Cintron underwent surgery in December 2006 to remove bone chips from his right elbow, and the recovery took longer than expected.

"Last year, I couldn't say I'm OK or I'm a hundred percent," he said. "I played with that pain, and it wasn't good for my career. In the offseason, everyone wanted to know if I was healthy enough to play shortstop, so that's why I was happy to go down there [Norfolk] to show I was healthy. I was comfortable catching the ball, throwing the ball. You're never going to be like you were before, but I'm good enough to make the plays. I don't have any pain."

Power surge for Scott

Though outfielder Luke Scott didn't find his name in the Orioles' lineup last night, he seems to have rediscovered his power stroke.

Scott has made an adjustment in his stance that might be responsible for the two home runs he has hit in his past three games. Forced to stand taller in the batter's box to compensate for a painful left Achilles' tendon, Scott recently has been able to lower his stance and derive more power from his legs.

"That's how I've hit in the past," said Scott, who hadn't homered since April 8 until connecting Tuesday night against Boston Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. "I haven't really hit with my legs since '06. Whenever I got down, it bothered my Achilles'. Before that, on breaking balls, my center of balance wouldn't get off. I was able to stay more level on balls and stay more in a power position and get more on the ball. I've been able to go back to that because my Achilles' is feeling better. Maybe that's had something to do with it."

Scott also tends to be a streaky hitter, an explanation he recently passed along to manager Dave Trembley.

"It's one of those things with the season," Scott said. "The game of baseball, you're going to go through ups and downs."

Bradford makes appearance

Four games had passed without reliever Chad Bradford making an appearance until last night, when he was charged with two runs after he left in the eighth inning.

Trembley has used Jim Johnson more in a setup role lately, going with the hot hand while also figuring that Johnson gives him the better chance at a strikeout. Bradford made 17 appearances in the first 41 games, totaling 13 2/3 innings, and had pitched twice in the previous nine games - accumulating one inning over that span. Through 41 games last season, Bradford made 22 appearances spanning 16 2/3 innings and finished with 78 appearances, two more than the previous club record.

"There were some times last year where you went four or five days without pitching, but it all equals out," Bradford said. "I've noticed it, but it doesn't really make a difference. You just get your work in and be ready for the next time out."

Around the horn

Reliever Rocky Cherry was scheduled to throw one inning at Double-A Bowie last night in his second injury-rehabilitation appearance before reporting to Norfolk. ... Daniel Cabrera, Garrett Olson and Brian Burres will be the starters for the series at Yankee Stadium that begins Tuesday.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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