Rookie Brandon Fahey started in the outfield for the first time yesterday, adding another skill to his utility repertoire and impressing Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo with his bat.
Perlozzo wanted to get Fahey a few plate appearances, and the gangly 25-year-old rewarded him with two line-drive singles, a homer down the right-field line and two RBIs against the New York Yankees.
"That's my secret weapon, I guess, for now on," Perlozzo said. "He did a great job. For not having been in there, he was tremendous. He takes what you give him. He's fun to watch."
Fahey has played shortstop and second base through the minors and in Baltimore, but with Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts entrenched in the middle infield, he hasn't started much lately. The club likes to make its utility players as versatile as possible.
"The more positions I can play, the better off I'll be," Fahey said. "If you're just limited to one position, you'll be stuck, unless you're really good."
Perlozzo said that with Jay Gibbons hurt and Nick Markakis and Luis Matos struggling, he'll keep tinkering with his outfield.
"He's going to get in the mix, I would think," Perlozzo said of Fahey. "I don't know how his defense is really going to respond, but he sure does add something to the ballclub. He had a great day today."
Fahey played outfield at the University of Texas and said he feels comfortable there again after a week of pre-game drills.
Faith in Ray remains
Perlozzo said his confidence in closer Chris Ray didn't diminish with Ray's losses to the Yankees on Friday and Saturday. Ray twice came in to protect late-inning ties, and in both cases he surrendered the winning hit.
But Perlozzo said he wouldn't have hesitated to bring Ray in with a tight lead yesterday. "Absolutely," the manager said. "That's what he's here for."
The first-year closer has been among the team's bright spots with 14 saves and a 2.59 ERA in 23 appearances.
Ray said he was happy with the fastball that Johnny Damon drove for a game-winning homer in the 10th inning Saturday. Perlozzo agreed.
"He threw a pretty good fastball, knee-high or a little lower," the manager said. "Some good hitters are getting good hits off him. I mean, [Yankees closer] Mariano Rivera blows some saves, too."
Loewen in limbo
Perlozzo said he still wasn't sure if Adam Loewen would remain with the team after pitching well in his first major league start Saturday.
The rookie's rotation slot would come up again Thursday. Bruce Chen probably would fill it if Loewen is sent down.
Loewen's contract says he has to be with the team next season or be released, but Perlozzo said he's not worried about that.
"I'm sure even if he doesn't stay here, we'll see him in the rotation at some point later in the season," the manager said.
Around the horn
The club's other top pitching prospect, Hayden Penn, is expected to be in Baltimore today for a follow-up to his emergency appendectomy two weeks ago. If the checkup goes well, he could be sent to extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla., to resume pitching, Perlozzo said. ... The Orioles sold out all three games of the Yankees series. The series sellout was the club's first since a four-game set last July against the Boston Red Sox. The crowds were the three biggest of this season, and the three-game total of 143,898 was the 10th largest in Camden Yards history. ... Center fielder Corey Patterson stole a base for the eighth straight game yesterday, the first player to do so since Kenny Lofton in 1996.