ARLINGTON, Texas - New Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo sure knows how to work a room.
More than an hour before his team took the field for batting practice yesterday, Perlozzo hunted down Javy Lopez to make sure the catcher knew he'd be starting. He then turned to Sal Fasano with instructions that Lopez's backup would start today's series finale.
Lopez nodded his head, a bit surprised that Perlozzo went to all that trouble to pass along such news.
Earlier in the morning, Perlozzo found Eric Byrnes slouched on one of the sofas, sat next to him and asked, "Do you want to play?" Assuming that Perlozzo was kidding, Byrnes grinned and said, "You never have to ask me that."
Perlozzo smiled, but he was serious. He's looking to rest Byrnes, a high-energy player, and wanted to alert the outfielder that he'd soon be out of the lineup for a day. He also wants everyone in the clubhouse to be straightforward with him. If you're tired, tell him.
"That's me," Perlozzo said. "I might not be the smartest guy in the world or the best manager in the world, but one of the things I like to do is talk to my people and let them know I care about them and keep them as informed as I can.
"I think I have a pretty good feel for how a player feels and what they like. I think that's the right thing to do. I like to tell the guys, 'You're in there,' or 'You're out of there.'"
Perlozzo also gave David Newhan early warning that he'd be starting in center field yesterday. That meant benching Luis Matos, who had batted .527 (29-for-55) while hitting safely in 14 straight games against the Texas Rangers. He was batting .455 (30-for-66) in 19 career games against the Rangers.
"I want to give David some playing time," Perlozzo said. "As a team, we all need to play a little bit."
Matos went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs Friday night. He homered in a July 26 game against the Rangers and went 4-for-6 the next night.
"You've got your teams that you don't even hit the ball against, and your teams that you feel more comfortable against at the plate," he said. "Baseball is mental. Maybe you can say, 'Oh, that's good that we're going to Texas.' It's just something you can't explain."
Gomez steps in for Mora
Third baseman Melvin Mora tried to run on his sore left ankle yesterday and informed Perlozzo that he still couldn't play.
"He wasn't able to go today, although he feels a lot better," Perlozzo said. "When he went out to test it, he still couldn't go, so we'll take it a day at a time."
Mora suffered a mild sprain after stepping on first base during Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Angels. He was a late scratch from Friday's lineup, and Chris Gomez replaced him again yesterday.
"I finished [Thursday's] game, but the next day I was like, 'Oh my God.' It was sore," Mora said.
Perlozzo was looking to rest Mora anyway, so the injury doesn't come at an inopportune time. Mora is 2-for-24 over his past six games.
"I told him he was going to get one day; now he's going to get two or three," Perlozzo said.
Gomez remains a valuable reserve for the Orioles. The front office has been criticized for signing ineffective relievers Steve Kline and Steve Reed over the winter and trading for Sammy Sosa, but obtaining Gomez - first as a free agent and then in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies after losing him in the Rule 5 draft - has proved wise.
"This kid has done a great job for us. He works his butt off every day," Perlozzo said.
Around the horn
The Rangers placed outfielder Richard Hidalgo on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist injury and recalled Marshall McDougall from Triple-A Oklahoma. ... The Rangers retired former manager Johnny Oates' No. 26 in a pre-game ceremony. Oates, who managed the Orioles from 1991 to 1994, died last Christmas Eve after a three-year battle with brain cancer.