O's preparing for Hairston's return


Second baseman Jerry Hairston remains in Arizona on a jogging program while recovering from surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot, and he's expected to rejoin the Orioles when rosters expand in September.

So what happens to Brian Roberts, who is batting .280 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 62 games since replacing Hairston atop the order? Only one of them can start at second. Roberts could move to shortstop, though Deivi Cruz has been a solid investment this year at $1 million.

"We've been talking about it, and nobody's come up with a solution yet," said manager Mike Hargrove. "It's a good problem to have."

Hargrove said he had an "inkling of an idea," but he wouldn't elaborate.

Hairston was leading the American League with 14 steals before the injury, and hit safely in 22 of his last 27 games (.317) with 16 runs scored. Because of the layoff, the Orioles will judge him on the first two months rather than his return.

"I don't think we're looking at Jerry like this is a test or anything. It's mainly to get him back on the field," Hargrove said.

W. Roberts mending

Reliever Willis Roberts, moved to the 60-day disabled list last week, continues to do cuff weight exercises while rehabbing a torn ligament in his right elbow.

If he stays pain-free, Roberts said he might begin a throwing program in three weeks.

"It doesn't bother me too much," said Roberts, who hasn't pitched since June 28. "It's a lot better than before."

Surgery to repair the ligament remains an option if rest and exercise don't correct the problem.

Roberts said he understood the Orioles' decision to transfer him to the 60-day DL, which made room for Kurt Ainsworth on the 40-man roster.

"It doesn't matter. I want to feel better," he said.

Loewen still winless

Adam Loewen fell to 0-2 at short-season Aberdeen after losing to New Jersey on Saturday, 2-0, in a New York-Penn League game.

Loewen, the Orioles' first pick in the 2002 draft, allowed two runs and three hits in 3 2/3 innings. He also walked four, hit two batters and struck out four.

Joe Coppinger, whose brother, Rocky, pitched for the Orioles, allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

Around the horn

Rookie Jose Morban had started four of the past five games after starting twice in the first 103. He was the designated hitter again yesterday, mostly out of necessity because of Melvin Mora's sore right hand. ... Host families are needed for visiting players participating in this month's Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen. Anyone interested should call 410-297-9085. ... Yesterday's silent auction of baseball memorabilia raised $22,200 for Pathfinders for Autism, the Orioles Wives charity. The Aug. 17 auction will include a swim lesson with world champion Michael Phelps and a golf outing with Ripken and B.J. Surhoff.

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