Orioles will be cautious with Scott


DH happy to return from hamstring injury, but it's unclear when he'll start in the field

  • Baltimore Orioles batter Luke Scott reacts after watching a called third strike with runners on base against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles wore 1970s-era uniforms to honor the 1970 World Series champion Orioles, who were honored before the game.
Baltimore Orioles batter Luke Scott reacts after watching… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
July 19, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

In the past two weeks, Luke Scott learned it's even harder to watch his team lose on television than it is from the dugout.

"It's tough to watch. It's tough to see," Scott said. "I know because I've been here and I've gone through it myself, and it is difficult. But today's a new day."

Scott, who had been on the disabled list since July 1 with a strained left hamstring, was activated Monday and immediately inserted into the fifth spot in the lineup as the club's designated hitter. He went 2-for-9 in three rehabilitation games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles in Sarasota, Fla.

"Mechanically-wise, my swing feels good," said Scott, who hit .274 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in 66 games for the Orioles before his injury, which came while he rounded the bases after a homer June 30. "I played three rehab games down there in the Gulf Coast League. I was able to hit the fastball hard on the ground to all fields, so it's as good as it's going to be."

Interim manager Juan Samuel said the club missed Scott's power bat but that he is going to take a cautious approach with Scott. Scott will likely start at DH on Tuesday as well, but Samuel doesn't know when he'll start him in the field.

"He knows if we need him in an emergency, he's available," Samuel said. "But, right now, we have to be careful with Luke to throw him out in the outfield."

Scott said he can run without pain but he won't try to do too much on his return. More than anything, Scott said, he's just glad to be back with the team.

"It was difficult. I had a lot of spare time on my hands to think about a lot of things, think about the game and think about what you want to do," he said. "There was a lot of time to sit down and assess what's gone on this season and just get ready to come back and continue working hard and hopefully turn things around."

Mata demoted

Reliever Frank Mata wasn't banking on a chance to pitch in the majors when he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles in the offseason. So after spending nearly two months in the big leagues, Mata wasn't crushed by his demotion to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday when Scott was activated.

"I really appreciate the Orioles for giving me the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues," said Mata, who was 0-0 with a 7.79 ERA in 15 games. "I had a good experience with these guys here, these veteran guys. It's part of the game. So I'm going back to Norfolk and going to work hard there."

Mata, 26, showed flashes, allowing just one run in his first seven appearances, but he allowed eight earned runs over his past four games. He did, however, give up just one run in three innings Sunday.

"What we saw [Sunday] was very good. He wasn't overthrowing, and he kept the ball down," Samuel said. "Mata's got good stuff. He's got some movement. But at times, we've seen him trying to overthrow, and he does not need that. What we saw [Sunday] Â that's the guy we want to see. He kept the ball down, he did not overthrow and we think, the time that he was up here, that he learned."

More roster decisions pending

Left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez (shoulder strain) will see his rehab assignment end Wednesday, while starter Kevin Millwood is eligible to return from the disabled list that day, when struggling right-hander Brad Bergesen is scheduled to pitch.

The club is leaning toward giving Bergesen (3-7, 6.37 ERA) one more start, but he could be demoted to Norfolk for a third time or be sent to the bullpen. Infielder Josh Bell is also a candidate to be demoted in the next few days. Samuel said no roster decisions have been made.

"We could see what our situation is," Samuel said about moving a starter such as Bergesen to the bullpen. "We used our long guy [Mark Hendrickson on Sunday]. If it comes to that decision and our starters are not getting us innings, then we might have to do something to get somebody in that bullpen to use as the long guy."

Gonzalez, who was signed to be the closer but has pitched in just three games for the Orioles, doesn't have to be activated Wednesday. But he can't pitch again in the minors without a move being made, so he likely will join the club and initially pitch in the sixth or seventh inning.

Lots of lefties

With the return of Scott, the Orioles have three left-handed hitters -- Corey Patterson, Felix Pie and Scott -- competing for time at left field and designated hitter. Samuel said he's not sure how he'll get all of them into the lineup. But it's always on his mind.

"I am trying to put lineups together in my house with all these guys coming," Samuel joked. "It's a decision that I will have to make, and I talked to these guys and let them know that, hey, it's crowded and somebody is going to have to sit at times to be able to get all these guys some playing time. It's interesting."

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