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Able to swing again, Matos to go to minors next week to tune up


CINCINNATI - Orioles center fielder Luis Matos is scheduled to go on an injury rehabilitation assignment Monday, though his destination remains unknown.

Matos, who broke his right ring finger on May 10, could join Double-A Bowie in Trenton, N.J., or Triple-A Ottawa in Toledo, Ohio. Single-A Delmarva is the only affiliate that's home early next week.

He's expected to receive 20-25 at-bats to regain his timing before retuning to the majors.

"The biggest thing for him is to get his arm in shape," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "He really hasn't thrown in a month. You want to make sure he's ready to throw from the outfield because you don't want him to come down with a sore shoulder. But his hand is fine."

Matos has been swinging a bat and throwing without any discomfort, an indication he's ready to start playing in games.

"It's just a little bit numb, so that's good," he said. "I'm just trying to get ready with my swing. There isn't any pain in the fingers, so I can start swinging a lot harder."

Matos has been wearing a protective device on the finger while throwing, but it's affecting his grip on the ball. "It's slippery, so I'm going to try a Band-Aid or something," he said.

Matos will serve as a designated hitter for a few days before returning to center field.

"If you're going to get in baseball shape, you've got to play the outfield. I'm not going to DH here," he said.

The injury occurred as Matos tried to bunt against Minnesota reliever Jesse Crain. A fastball nailed him in the finger, which was wrapped around the bat.

"I'm not scared at all," he said. "I've been bunting in the cage and they always say 'Flashback' or something funny, something to make a joke."

The Orioles continue to receive good news on injured players.

Second baseman Brian Roberts returned to the lineup after pinch hitting twice in Pittsburgh. He hadn't started since May 31 in Boston because of a strained right rotator cuff.

Left fielder Larry Bigbie, on the disabled list since May 28, should return Monday after completing his rehab assignment with Ottawa. And catcher Javy Lopez could be back within a month after breaking his right hand May 24.

"I think today was the most encouraging news we've had with all the injuries," Mazzilli said. "Even in Javy's case, things look good. It's all encouraging."

Lopez might begin strengthening exercises next week.

Pitcher Erik Bedard, out with a sprained knee, will be re-examined on Monday. He'll eventually go on a rehab assignment.

"He's progressing, as well," Mazzilli said. "The only downside with Erik is, when you miss that extended a period of time, it's almost like to need a mini-spring training. You've got to give him two weeks to build up innings and his pitch count."

Marrero to get start

Newest Oriole Eli Marrero is expected to receive his first start tonight in the outfield against Cincinnati Reds left-hander Brandon Claussen.

Marrero joined the team yesterday after passing his physical.

The Orioles optioned outfielder Napoleon Calzado, another right-handed hitter, to Triple-A Ottawa to allow Marrero on the 25-man roster. Calzado was 1-for-5 in four games.

"This is a good opportunity," said Marrero, acquired from Kansas City Wednesday for low Single-A infielder Pete Maestrales. "I'm coming to a team that's in first place and I'll go out there and do what I can do."

Marrero said he had "mixed feelings" at first about the Orioles trading for him because he heard rumors that he was returning to the National League.

"But a lot of my friends in baseball gave me a call and said they were jealous," he said. "I'm just happy to be here."

Marrero was batting .159 with four homers and nine RBIs with the Royals. He batted a career-high .320 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs with Atlanta last season, but he had trouble adjusting to a new league.

Though he hasn't caught since 2003, Marrero will be used in emergency situations or after a double-switch in National League parks. "I'll go out in the bullpen and get used to it because I haven't done it in about two years," he said. "He said he won't start me behind the plate."

Nats claim Sequea

The Washington Nationals claimed Jacobo Sequea on waivers yesterday, reuniting him with general manager Jim Bowden, who traded the reliever to the Orioles along with B.J. Ryan on July 31, 1999, while part of the Reds' front office.

Sequea was 0-1 with five saves and a 7.58 ERA in 18 games at Ottawa. The Orioles designated him for assignment Wednesday after acquiring Marrero.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Cincinnati Reds

Site, time: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, 7:10

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (5-4, 5.10) vs. Reds' Brandon Claussen (2-3, 4.50)

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