J. Lopez remains weeks away from his return to club


His return once thought to be possible before the All-Star break, catcher Javy Lopez is still at least two weeks away from being back in the Orioles' lineup.

Manager Lee Mazzilli said yesterday that Lopez, who hasn't played since breaking a bone in his right hand on May 24, will be with the team on Thursday in Seattle, but probably won't be available for the entire 10-game road trip, which starts the second half of the season.

That leaves July 25, the Orioles' first home date after the All-Star Game, as the earliest date for the catcher's return.

"It's hard to put a date on it," said Mazzilli. "I don't think he'll be ready on that trip. I don't see it. There wasn't a significant setback. It's just something where you don't know where it's going to lead to."

Lopez worked out before the Orioles' 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox yesterday, and then left the stadium long before game time, telling his teammates he'll "see them in Seattle," on his way out of the clubhouse.

Last week, Lopez, who had surgery on May 26, was shut down from baseball-related activities because of mild swelling and pain in the hand. Mazzilli wasn't sure yesterday when Lopez will be able to return to taking batting practice.

"I don't think it is going to be a major thing, to where it's a major setback at all," Mazzilli said. "As a hitter ... from elbow down, if you are hurting, you can't hit."

Bedard a Shorebird

Pitcher Erik Bedard will make his second rehabilitation start tomorrow for Single-A Delmarva, and is still on schedule to start next Monday against Minnesota.

Bedard, who pitched two innings for Double-A Bowie last Wednesday, striking out four and surrendering two earned runs, was initially supposed to start today for Bowie, but the plan was changed because of "scheduling purposes," said Bedard.

Bedard said he'll be limited to 65 pitches or five innings - whichever comes first.

"In the game I threw on Wednesday, my knee didn't hurt," said Bedard. "I hope it still feels like that. At least now I know when I am going to come back. It just feels good to be back on track."

After the All-Star break, Daniel Cabrera will pitch the first game for the Orioles, followed by Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen, Sidney Ponson and then Bedard in the series opener in Minnesota.

Detroit, here we come

As most of the Orioles rushed out of the clubhouse and went their separate ways for the All-Star break, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora and B.J. Ryan were packing for Detroit for tomorrow night's All-Star Game.

The trip is most special for Roberts and Ryan, the two first-time All-Stars.

"For me and B.J. Ryan, we joked about sitting in the locker room beside each other four years ago and we were just complaining how bad we were and how we needed to hang them up and go home," said Roberts. "For us to be going on the same flight to Detroit today, that's pretty cool."

Added Ryan: "We were here when we weren't very good and he was battling for his job and I wasn't pitching a whole lot out of the bullpen. It's fun that I get to go out there with him."

This will be Tejada's third All-Star Game, but he said he is going to treat it like it's his first one. He will get his first career start.

"I am going to enjoy every moment," said Tejada. "Me and [Roberts], we're going to be walking around like little kids, trying to touch everything."

No HR Derby for Tejada

Major League Baseball officials asked Tejada to defend his Home Run Derby title tonight, but the shortstop declined, instead requesting that Boston slugger David Ortiz represent the Dominican Republic. The event's format was changed this year with players representing their homeland, not their league.

"Ortiz is the guy I want to represent our country," said Tejada. "I think right now, he is the best home run hitter for our country. I talked to Ortiz and I said, 'You've got to go.' "

Record crowd again

Yesterday's attendance was 49,828, the largest crowd in Camden Yards history, surpassing the previous mark of 49,696 on June 22, 2004, against the Yankees. The total attendance for the four-game series - 195,722 - also set a franchise record. The previous record was 192,494 against Boston from June 9-12, 1998.

Around the horn

The Orioles won their first series since June 17-19, against Colorado. ... Johnny Damon beat out a ninth-inning bunt to extend his career-high hitting streak to 25 games. ... Held to two runs in the past two games, Boston's offense was leading the majors in batting average (.283) and runs (472). ... Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield, who gave up four runs and nine hits in seven innings, lost for the first time since June 6. He was 4-0 in his previous five starts.

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