Lugo says he expects to play for Orioles

Veteran infielder likely to back up Roberts, Izturis

April 03, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec |

TAMPA, Fla. — — New Orioles infield acquisition Julio Lugo arrived in the clubhouse Friday and made it clear he expects to play.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley "told me I'm going to play more," Lugo said. "I'm just going to come here and do my best. I like to play. I'm fine. I'm happy they found a way to do it, and I'm happy that I'm here."

The Orioles added Lugo on Thursday, acquiring the veteran utility infielder from the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named or cash.

The impetus of the move was to upgrade at the utility-infield spot and give the club insurance for second baseman Brian Roberts, who is still ailing with a herniated disk in his back.

"I'm aware that he's hurt, but I know he's the second baseman here," said Lugo, 34, who is lifetime .271 hitter over 10 big league seasons and has started at every position in the majors except first base and catcher. "I think Dave's going to try to get me some playing time."

Trembley said that for now, the club will use the infielder at second base or shortstop to spell starter Cesar Izturis, though Lugo, who has fought through groin issues this spring, said he's up for anything.

"You're ready physically and mentally," said Lugo, who went 0-for-2 in the Orioles' 6-6 tie with the New York Yankees on Friday. "You come from another team and you've already had spring training. It's not like I was sitting at home not doing anything. It's just a different hat, a different uniform. ... Baltimore has a team that has a lot of winners. A lot of good people have been through here. All the guys talk good about this team. I just want to lay low and try to figure it out myself."

What to do with Andino?
Opening Day rosters need to be set by 3 p.m. Sunday, and barring another trade or a late injury, the only drama left for the Orioles involves infielder Robert Andino. The addition of Lugo essentially knocked Andino off the 25-man Opening Day roster, and he'll also likely be the one removed from the 40-man roster to accommodate Will Ohman, the nonroster player who has won a spot in the bullpen.

Because Andino is out of options, the Orioles would have to designate him for assignment and expose him to waivers.

Minor leaguers released
Mike Costanzo, the third base prospect who was part of the Orioles' five-player return from the Houston Astros in the Miguel Tejada deal in December 2007, was released by the organization Friday. The club asked Costanzo, who hit .201 last year in 60 games for Double-A Bowie, whether he would consider pitching. He declined and, in turn, asked for his release.

Also released were first baseman Elvin Polanco; outfielders David Cash, Richard D'Oleo and Joe Nowicki; catcher Brendan Monaghan; and pitchers Colin Allen, Andrew Barb, Joseph Esposito, Christopher Salberg and Brian Sisk.

Around the horn
In his final tuneup before he starts Game 2 of the season Wednesday, Jeremy Guthrie pitched four innings and allowed one run and two hits while striking out four against the Minnesota Twins' Single-A team. He threw 51 pitches. ... Reliever Kam Mickolio (groin) said he felt 100 percent healthy in his bullpen session Thursday. Mickolio and No. 4 starter Brad Bergesen will throw in an intrasquad game Sunday. ... Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, a friend of Trembley's, spoke to the team Friday.

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