Torn thumb ligament found, delaying return of Ponson


A magnetic resonance imaging test on Sidney Ponson's right thumb yesterday revealed that the right-hander has a torn ligament and will be out at least three more weeks.

Ponson has been on the disabled list and hasn't pitched since Aug. 7, when he was removed from a start in Texas after 2 1/3 innings with a strained right calf.

His thumb was initially injured on July 28 against the Rangers when he took a ground ball by Sandy Alomar off the thumb in the third inning.

Ponson worked out and threw a bullpen session in Oakland, Calif., last week and reported some soreness in his right leg.

The right-hander was eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday, but his return was delayed because of swelling in his right thumb. X-rays taken Saturday were negative, but the MRI yesterday confirmed that he had a torn ligament.

Ponson is 7-11 with a 6.21 ERA. He hasn't won since beating Colorado on June 18.

Baldwin glad to be back

After spending parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues, James Baldwin said he thought he had seen it all. But as he pulled on an Orioles jersey before last night's game, Baldwin admitted that this season has provided him another lesson on how unpredictable baseball can be.

"This has been the strangest year I've ever had in my career," said Baldwin, who was claimed by the Orioles on Monday after the Texas Rangers put him on waivers. "This is definitely the tip of the iceberg right here, but just to be a Baltimore Oriole again is a blessing."

The Orioles activated Baldwin yesterday and put reliever Jason Grimsley on the disabled list with a strained left Achilles' tendon. Baldwin, whom the Orioles will use in long relief, was one of the Orioles' most effective pitchers for two months after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Ottawa on May 18. But he was the odd man out when the Orioles needed to activate Erik Bedard.

Palmeiro: No Nats comment

Saying that he was unaware of the comments made by Frank Robinson, who suggested on Tuesday that Rafael Palmeiro's records should not be given an asterisk but be wiped away because of steroid use, the Orioles first baseman declined to engage in a war of words with the Washington Nationals manager.

"I have no comment about that," Palmeiro said. "He's entitled to his opinion, but I am not aware of anything he said. ... I really don't want to get into it. I respect Frank ... but I am not going to comment on that."

Surhoff back, Freire down

Out since Aug. 9 because of a strained left groin, B.J. Surhoff was activated from the 15-day disabled list yesterday. Alejandro Freire was optioned to Double-A Bowie to make room.

Beattie said that Freire will be called up when rosters expand Sept. 1, but he was reluctant to say who else the Orioles are looking to add.

"We talked to Sam [Perlozzo] about it, we'll call up three position players, maybe four," Beattie said. "And we might have an arm or two."

Asked about Triple-A first baseman Walter Young and Double-A outfielder Nick Markakis, Perlozzo said that those two players haven't been discussed in depth.

Beattie also wouldn't rule out that the Orioles could make a trade before the waiver trade deadline Aug. 21.

DuBose, Maine flipped

Because Eric DuBose pitched only two innings Tuesday night, he'll start again Saturday on three days' rest. John Maine, who originally was scheduled to go Saturday but was needed for five innings of relief behind DuBose, will now start Sunday.

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