In choosing a designated hitter for last night's game against the Seattle Mariners, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli weighed the condition of David Segui's left knee and the desire to give B.J. Surhoff more at-bats. Under those terms, the decision became pretty obvious.
It won't always be that simple. Segui was hitting .325 (13-for-40) in his past 10 games before taking a seat on the bench, as he did Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays. But Surhoff was 5-for-8 in his past two starts, leaving his average at .375. Segui had 47 at-bats, compared with only 16 for Surhoff.
Surhoff entered Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays in the 10th inning, allowing him to appear in consecutive games for the first time this season. He took over at first base when Segui's left knee began bothering him.
"He's still not 100 percent." Mazzilli said of Segui, who experienced some swelling in the knee. "That's the one thing you face when two guys are swinging the bat well. You"ve got to get them in the lineup. You don't want one sitting too long.
"When you're facing right- handed pitching, you"ve got two guys who hit from the left side. That's another thing you have to consider."
If Mazzilli finds the current arrangement a challenge, wait until Jerry Hairston comes off the disabled list, adding to his DH options.
"It gets a lot more complicated." Mazzilli said. "I don't know if I can come up with a definitive answer right now."
In defense of Gibbons
Jay Gibbons won't be confused with Roberto Clemente in right field, but teams are learning that it's becoming more dangerous to run on him.
Gibbons has two outfield assists this season, both coming since Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay. He nailed the Devil Rays' Eduardo Perez at the plate in the first inning, after they already had two runs off Matt Riley, and threw out Toronto's Carlos Delgado at home to end the fifth inning in Sunday's 15-3 loss.
An adjustment in his weight- training routine this winter is bringing the desired results. Gibbons focused more on his shoulders, "and my arm feels stronger than it ever has." he said.
"I haven't done anything different other than the lifting."
Gibbons also believes his range has improved, especially breaking in on balls.
"With Luis [Matos] there in center, it helps me a lot, just feeling comfortable to where I can play hitters certain ways, knowing he"ll back me up." Gibbons said.
No retirement for Groom
Unsure whether the Orioles will exercise the option on his contract after this season, reliever Buddy Groom says he is fairly certain that he'll continue to pitch in 2005.
So far, retirement hasn't whispered in his ear, but he's always willing to listen.
"I'll see how it goes." he said. 'I think I can still pitch and help somebody."
The Orioles aren't expected to keep Groom, 38, beyond this season. B.J. Ryan is emerging as a reliable - and often dominating - left-handed setup man who will get most of the late innings that once were reserved for Groom.
Before last night, Ryan (eight games) and Groom (six) hadn't allowed a run. In the process, Groom has eased some concerns in the organization that developed after he surrendered eight runs and 15 hits in 8 2/3 innings in spring training.
Maine to sign
Double-A Bowie pitcher John Maine will sign autographs tonight at the Community Booth at Camden Yards, on the concourse level along the first base side. Maine, the organization's minor league Pitcher of the Year in 2003, is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts.