A day later, Bell still smiling about first two big league homers

Notebook

Rookie third baseman went deep twice Saturday off Rangers ace Lee

August 22, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles rookie Josh Bell walked into the clubhouse just before noon Sunday still sporting a smile, which only grew broader when he showed off the two prized possessions in his locker.

Bell had the ball he hit off Texas Rangers ace Cliff Lee on Saturday for his first major league home run on one side and the ball he hit off Lee for his second homer one inning later on the other.

He plans to deliver them this week to his mother, Jacqueline, who will be in Chicago to watch her son play in the Orioles- White Sox series starting Tuesday.

"She's the motivator, the one that kept me going. She's my biggest supporter," said Bell whose father, Bruce, died of kidney failure in 2004 at the age of 44. "It's definitely fun for her to be able to see me play. I know my dad would always say that he would always want to buy his mom a house. She passed early. [But] just for my mom to be able to see me play, it is a dream come true."

Bell said several of his family members were watching the game and his phone hadn't stopped buzzing since Saturday's game ended. He acknowledged that he was so excited after the game that he had trouble sleeping.

"The main thing that was so shocking was it was Cliff Lee, and [I hit them] right-handed," said Bell, who went 0-for-3 in the Orioles' 6-4 loss Sunday. "It was just one of the moments that you are not going to forget. I'll get to say that my first home run was off Cliff Lee and my family got to watch. Moments like that are what you play for. It still hasn't hit me yet. It's just one of those things that you ride out. You watched SportsCenter as a kid growing up, and you always wanted to be on the highlights."

Scott hits milestone homer

Luke Scott had taken several tentative hacks off Rangers starter Tommy Hunter in his first two at-bats, but that changed on a 0-2 pitch in the sixth inning. Scott launched Hunter's pitch 422 feet into the right-field seats, the two-run home run giving him 24 homers for the season and 100 for his career.

"I knew kind of early in the year that I was getting up towards that number," Scott said. "I wasn't really paying attention. I was looking to get something hard in play. … To have a chance to hit 100 home runs at the major league level, it's something that I'm humbled by. I'm thankful because it's been a lot of fun."

Scott is one homer shy of tying his career high for a season, which he set last year. In 20 games this month, Scott is batting .355 (27-for-76) with five doubles, seven homers and 16 RBIs.

Slumping Jones gets day off

With Adam Jones hitless in his past 16 at-bats since his walk-off bunt single Monday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter gave his regular center fielder the afternoon off. Felix Pie started in center with Corey Patterson getting the nod in left.

It was just the third time all season that Jones hasn't started. Showalter wanted to get him back-to-back days off, which Monday's day off allows him to do.

"I told him after the game [Saturday] night, I didn't want him to walk in here until after 12:30," Showalter said. "If you haven't seen him yet, that's why. I'll use him [Sunday] if I have to, but I'll give him the benefit of two if we can. He plays hard. I've been very impressed with his effort level. He's got a lot of want to, desire. He plays all out."

Checking on Johnson

When Showalter walked down to the Double-A Bowie bullpen Saturday night to talk to rehabilitating reliever Jim Johnson, the Orioles' former setup man lamented the fact that he hasn't thrown many changeups. Johnson threw one later that night, and it was knocked out of the ballpark by Richmond's Thomas Neal.

However, Showalter was otherwise impressed by Johnson, who will pitch one inning each Tuesday and Wednesday for Bowie before potentially being activated from the disabled list. Showalter said the club hasn't decided whether Johnson will come back this week or after rosters expand Sept. 1.

"It's the first time I had ever seen him, but he looks good," Showalter said. "He has a good look in his eye. He's getting close. That was his first back-to-back outing. That's one of the reasons I wanted to see it. … Boy, he certainly looks the part, doesn't he? He's a good-looking pitcher."

Johnson hasn't pitched in a big league game since April 30 because of right elbow inflammation.

Around the horn

Rick VandenHurk made his Orioles debut Sunday, striking out two and walking one in a scoreless seventh inning. … The first pitch of Sunday's game was delayed 21 minutes after there was a downpour about 10 minutes before the originally scheduled start. … Now 12-9 in August, the Orioles will need to go 3-4 the rest of this month to have their first winning month since June 2008. … Triple-A Norfolk's Chris Tillman threw seven shutout innings against Durham on Saturday, allowing just two hits and two walks and striking out eight. In his past three starts, Tillman has allowed four earned runs in 19 2/3 innings (1.83 ERA). ... Hunter didn't issue a walk or record a strikeout in his eight innings of work. It was the longest outing for a pitcher without either since the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander went eight innings May 17, 2006, against the Minnesota Twins.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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