Gibbons nears return from DL


MINNEAPOLIS -- After running and making cuts on the Metrodome artificial turf yesterday, Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons is confident he'll soon be back on the field.

And that would help return some normality to what he said has been one of the most difficult periods of his life.

"This has been about as tough of a 2 1/2 weeks as I have ever had," Gibbons said. "There's no doubt about it."

On May 23, Gibbons' mother died unexpectedly. Three days later he crashed into an outfield wall in Anaheim, Calif., and injured his left hip and right knee.

"To go through something like [his mother's death], I know everybody has to, but I don't wish it on anybody," Gibbons said. "On top of it, getting hurt right in the middle of it. Now it's just concentrating on getting back. It's something I am looking forward to."

Gibbons ran about "10 to 15 sprints" and several figure-eight drills, and he also cut around the bases before last night's game. There was no pain in his hip, he said, but he felt some stiffness in his knee, which has a slight tear of the posterior cruciate ligament.

"The knee, when I do come back, is going to be an issue. You are going to a see a little bit of a limp," Gibbons said. "It's not a lot of pain. It's just going to be awhile with that injury."

He said he tried to wear a brace yesterday and it was too limiting. But he has been told that the tear should not increase during normal baseball duties, so he feels he'll be able to continue to play right field.

"I'm not the fleetest of foot anyway," he said. "We'll see how I am able to work out there. I think it is going to be OK."

Manager Sam Perlozzo said he wouldn't rule out inserting Gibbons at designated hitter or first base if he couldn't play right. But Javy Lopez has been fairly effective as the regular DH and the constant action at first base probably wouldn't give Gibbons' balky knee much of a rest.

"Ideally, you'd rather him be in the outfield," Perlozzo said.

Gibbons probably won't come off the disabled list until Monday, a day after he is eligible, because tomorrow the club will face tough young left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Back to 12 pitchers

Perlozzo hinted that when Gibbons is activated, the Orioles probably would make a move involving a pitcher - especially with an interleague series against the New York Mets starting Friday. That still hasn't been decided, however.

"We're trying to figure that out," Perlozzo said. "We kind of felt like it was OK to carry that [extra pitcher] to some degree because we were playing such good offensive ballclubs. But eventually that's not what we are going to do. I'd rather have another guy on the bench."

Batista reunion

Twins third baseman Tony Batista walked to the Orioles' dugout before the game and offered hugs and handshakes to just about everyone. Batista, who played with the Orioles from 2001 to 2003, teased Perlozzo that he still remembered the team's hitting and base-running signs.

Perlozzo joked back that it didn't matter since the Orioles' players didn't know their own signs.

Around the horn

Perlozzo, who made his major league debut and played 10 games with the Minnesota Twins in 1977, hadn't managed a game in Minnesota before yesterday. ... Utility man Brandon Fahey started his fourth game in left field. ... According to Elias Sports Bureau, Adam Loewen was the fourth pitcher to face a pair of former Cy Young Award winners (Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay) in his first two major league starts, joining Jay Ryan, Bill Travers and Amaury Telemaco. Telemaco, with the Chicago Cubs in 1996, faced three Cy Young winners in his first three starts (Doug Drabek, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine). Loewen most likely will face Toronto's Halladay again Tuesday.

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