Notebook: Orioles get spark from rookie

Hughes gets hits in his first two starts against Red Sox

  • Orioles rookie Rhyne Hughes singles in the go-ahead run against the Red Sox.
Orioles rookie Rhyne Hughes singles in the go-ahead run against… (Getty Images )
April 25, 2010|By Dan Connolly | Baltimore Sun reporter

BOSTON — First baseman Rhyne Hughes isn't sure if he is the spark the Orioles need to break out of their season-long funk.

If he is, though, he's willing to play the role.

"I just want to be here and do what I can to help out," said Hughes, who is 4-for-9 with two RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. "Everybody knows we've been scuffling a little bit. When we're playing well, everyone has a lot more fun, and that's what I'm trying to do. If I bring a spark, then I'll do that."

Hughes had two hits in his major-league debut Saturday, which included an RBI single against John Lackey in his first at-bat. His brightest moment, though, came in Sunday's 10th inning, when he singled through the right-side hole to break a 4-4 tie in the Orioles' eventual 7-6 win against the Boston Red Sox.

Hughes, who the Orioles acquired last year from Tampa Bay in last year's Gregg Zaun deal, was batting .353 when he was recalled. He was immediately put into the lineup at first base, and may relegate free-agent signee Garrett Atkins to the bench for the time being.

"He was the hottest hitter in the system and that's why he got an opportunity to come here and he's certainly picked up right where he left off in Triple-A," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "It's great that that happens for someone like him. That he can come up here, contribute and we win."

His start has been even more meaningful for Hughes because of where it has come. Hughes, 26, grew up in Mississippi, but he idolized Boston Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

"I have always been a huge fan, because I have always loved to hit," said Hughes, who was born on Sept 9, 1983, or 9-9. "When I was a kid, I was the kid with the pretty left-handed swing. I wore No. 9 (Williams' number) since I was like 7."

Hughes, who is wearing No. 40 with the Orioles because veteran Miguel Tejada has No. 9, said he first read Williams' book, "The Science of Hitting," when he was 12. He watches any Williams' TV specials he can find.

So before his big-league debut Friday, Hughes made a point to run sprints in the Fenway Park outfield and think about the Splendid Splinter.

"My favorite player played outfield here," Hughes said. "Just roamed around in the outfield here. So that's pretty neat."

Wieters sits initially

Catcher Matt Wieters got his second game off this season while reserve Craig Tatum started on Sunday. In his first full big-league season, Wieters had started 17 of the Orioles' first 18 games. Wieters entered in the eighth Sunday as a pinch-hitter for Tatum, caught the final three innings and had a big two-run single in the 10th that proved to be the game-winner.

"He hasn't shown any signs early of wear and tear," Trembley said. "I asked him how he was doing, and he said, well, if this was July or August [the workload] would probably affect him. But right now he feels real strong."

Lugo's family gets scare

Infielder Julio Lugo's younger brother, Ruddy, a pitcher with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, was hospitalized on Friday after being hit in the right temple with a line drive during a game against Columbus.

Lugo said he talked to his brother in the hospital, and though he has a "big bump" on his head, Ruddy Lugo will be OK.

"How can it not be on your mind? Everything is important with your family," Lugo said. "I couldn't get any sleep [Saturday] because I knew he was in the hospital. It's scary because you don't know what's coming after you hear about it happening."

Around the horn

RHP Brad Bergesen, who is hoping to return Saturday for an outing against the Boston Red Sox in Baltimore, pitched well in his first start with Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed seven hits, no walks and two runs in seven innings Sunday to get the win against the Charlotte Knights. He was demoted on April 20 after going 0-2 with a 12.19 ERA in three starts for the Orioles. LF Nolan Reimold batted leadoff for the Orioles on Sunday, the first time he has done that in his big-league career. He went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Hughes has hit in each of his first two big-league games, the first Oriole to do that since Lou Montanez in 2008. Boston's RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (back) is expected to make his season debut Saturday at Camden Yards.

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