Orioles send Hughes down to Norfolk


Rookie first baseman was 6-for-38 since hot start vs. Boston

May 15, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles first baseman Rhyne Hughes had four hits in his first nine major league at-bats, a strong first impression even if it hadn't come against the Boston Red Sox.

But since those two days in late April at Fenway Park, Hughes found hits harder to come by, and he learned following Saturday night's game that he had been sent down to Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles will announce a corresponding move Sunday, but it is expected that they'll call up a reliever and go with an eight-man bullpen in the time being.  

"Of course it's disappointing. You never want to get sent down or anything like that, but it's OK," said Hughes, who will join the Tides on Tuesday. "Just going to go down there and try to do what I was doing before."

Hughes was just 6-for-38 (.158) since his first two games in Boston and a strikeout victim in seven of his last 12 at-bats. He was not in the Orioles' starting lineup Saturday night against Cleveland Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot.  It was the second time in less than a week that manager Dave Trembley went with Garrett Atkins at first base with a right-handed pitcher on the mound, and not the left-handed hitting Hughes.

Overall, Hughes, 26, batted .213 with four RBIs in 14 games. 

"It was great the first couple of days, but I also knew that it was just two games. This is a long season. I knew I wasn't going to be on top of the world for the whole season," said Hughes, hours before learning of the demotion. "I know how the game works. I wasn't trying to get too high then and even now, I'm trying to not get too low. I'm just going to keep it even keel. It's one of those things that I'm working through right now. It's not a lack of confidence or anything like that. I just have to tweak a few things to get it going."

Asked what he is seeing from Hughes, Trembley said, "Swinging and missing too much. Mechanically, he's drifting. He's underneath the ball. He's caught in between. He's taking the good ones and swinging at the bad ones."

Hughes took extra batting practice Saturday, trying to discover his power stroke. He earned the promotion April 24 from Norfolk because of a .353 average, three homers, 11 RBIs and nine extra-base hits. But not only has he slumped badly since joining the Orioles, but only two of his 10 hits (both doubles) are  for extra bases.

"It's a shame that one of the worst slumps I've had in my career happens to be in the big leagues," Hughes said. "It's a tough place to have a slump. You have peaks and valleys and right now, I'm in one of those valleys. I just got to climb myself out of it. I'm not doubting myself. I just know there are some things that I have to change and I have to tweak to be successful up here. There's maybe some things that I can get away with in the minor leagues that I won't be able to get away with here. I'm starting to figure that out."

Roberts, Gonzalez take steps

Injured Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts (herniated disk) played catch and took ground balls before Saturday's game. Roberts also played catch Friday, his first baseball-related activity since he last played on April 9.

Roberts won't be eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list until June 9.

"I am encouraged," Trembley said. "He's felt better, but he's got a ways to go yet."

Reliever Michael Gonzalez, who has been on the disabled list since April 10 with a left shoulder strain, threw a 30-pitch bullpen Saturday. It was his first time on the mound since going to the disabled list. He's still a couple of weeks away from returning.

Jones accepts blame

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones apologized to teammate Nick Markakis several times following his baserunning blunder that cost Markakis an RBI in the third inning on Friday.

Jones was on third base with no outs when Markakis hit a ground ball to the right side. Instead of running home, where he would have scored easily, Jones took a couple of steps off of home and then froze.

"I saw everyone [on the infield] was back and I just didn't go," Jones said. "I was frustrated with myself. I put Markakis in a position to get an RBI and he did exactly what he needed to do and I didn't give him an RBI. I told him about six times, 'I'm sorry,' and he just brushes it off. I'm a 10 times better baserunner than that."

Luke Scott, the next batter, picked up his teammate by driving in Jones with an RBI single to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

Around the horn

Pitching prospect Jake Arrieta took the loss for Triple-A Norfolk against Buffalo on Saturday, allowing four earned runs on five hits and four walks over six innings. Arrieta, who is now 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA, has walked 18 guys in his last 24 innings, and 28 games in 49 innings this season. … Outfielder Nolan Reimold went 0-for-3 with a strikeout Saturday for Norfolk and is now 0-for-6 with a walk in two games since his demotion. … Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will have a question-and-answer session with fans and sign autographs Monday at noon at the ESPN Zone in the in Inner Harbor.


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.