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Rainout clears up forecast for O's Chen


The Orioles have decided to skip Bruce Chen for one turn and hope to give him Monday's start against the New York Yankees, a decision made easier by last night's rainout.

Chen played catch yesterday but still isn't ready to pitch after spraining the big toe on his left foot during Saturday's game in Atlanta. He"ll throw at least one side session before returning to the rotation for the beginning of a two-game series in the Bronx.

"I've done all my work, gotten my throwing in." said Chen, who is wearing spikes with extra protection for the toe. "It feels much better."

The rotation could be altered again, however, if Chen still can't move freely next week because of the injury.

"I think Chen will be OK." manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Mazzilli said before last night's postponement that he was most concerned with Chen's ability to field his position.

"The big thing is that you have to make sure he can go over there and cover first base." Mazzilli said. "His throwing is fine, but he has to be able to do the other things that he needs to do."

The rainout, only the second endured by the Orioles this season and the first at Camden Yards, also gives the Orioles an extra day to determine third baseman Melvin Mora's status. Mora, who would have missed his eighth straight game, ran for the first time yesterday since straining his right hamstring June 21 in Toronto.

"I feel pretty good." Mora said. 'I don't hurt at all. I haven't run hard, but I don't hurt at all. I think maybe two more days.

"I feel a little tiny thing inside. I don't want to rush back. I just want to take a couple more days so it will completely heal. It will be fine by Saturday or Sunday."

Mazzilli ruled out having Mora start tonight's series opener against the Cleveland Indians.

"I don't see that happening." Mazzilli said. "He"ll probably have to run again one more time, just to make sure. You"d like to be real close to [100 percent], where there's no fear of you pulling it. You can't go out there thinking in your mind that it might happen. You have to stay away from that."

If anything positive could be mined from last night's long delay and eventual postponement, it's an opportunity for the Orioles to get a little healthier without losing more ground in the standings. They trail the Boston Red Sox by two games in the American League East.

Hayden Penn, scheduled to start last night, will take the ball tonight against the Indians, replacing Chen. Penn missed a chance to oppose former Oriole Mike Mussina, and erase the memory of his last start, when he allowed seven runs in two- plus innings against Atlanta.

Pitching coach Ray Miller advised Penn to avoid sitting during the delay, but also warned against pacing the clubhouse.

"I would just stretch every now and again, sit down, stretch. I was just trying to stay loose." said Penn, 20. "Obviously I wanted to go tonight. I was excited about throwing against the Yankees, but tomorrow is the same situation. I have to go out there and throw a good ballgame."

No makeup date has been set for last night's game. Both teams are off Sept. 26 before beginning a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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