NEW YORK -- Center fielder Mike Devereaux still is feeling some aftereffects from the injury that sidelined him for more than three weeks, but he said yesterday he had no reservations about returning to the lineup earlier than expected.
"It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "The only pain I do feel is in the muscles that are strained and that is going to be around for a while, but I can deal with that."
The Orioles, who were 10-11 in the 21 games they were without both Devereaux and Harold Baines (who also returned to the lineup last night), need to make a dynamic move to get back into the hunt in the American League East. Devereaux doesn't know if the return of two players can make the difference, but he says the club can come back to be a contender.
"I believe we can," he said, before going 1-for-5 with the game-winning RBI. "This is no time to give up. We're only in the month of May. But it's going to take a team effort."
Rookie outfielder Damon Buford got a reprieve yesterday. He was sure that he would be one of the players optioned out to make room for the return of Devereaux and Baines.
"I thought naturally that I would be the one," he said.
Instead, Mark Leonard and veteran Glenn Davis were moved off the roster and Buford will get to accompany the club on the remainder of the 10-day trip.
How long he'll remain on the roster depends on how much playing time manager Johnny Oates can find for him.
"He'll give me more speed off the bench," Oates said. "I'll have more than one pinch runner. I can use Damon and Jack Voigt to run now. But he's still a guy who needs to play some, so we'll see how it goes."
More on first-base situation
The assignment of Davis to Rochester further establishes David Segui as the everyday first baseman, but Oates said he'll give rookie Paul Carey some playing time there. He said Sherman Obando also could play some first base after he returns from a hamstring strain.
Fernando vs. Angels
Left-hander Fernando Valenzuela takes the mound tonight against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium.
It will be his first career appearance against the Angels, but it will be his third appearance at the Big A, where his first comeback attempt ran aground in 1991.