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Shoulder sore, but Wright also is encouraged

The Baltimore Sun

An examination yesterday by Orioles team orthopedist Dr. Andrew Cosgarea revealed no structural damage or acute pain in Jaret Wright's right shoulder, and the veteran pitcher remains tentatively scheduled to start Sunday's game against the Kansas City Royals.

"As far as the strength in the [rotator] cuff, I thought it was better than expected," Wright said. "We're just going to try to treat it and go from there."

Wright left Tuesday's game in the sixth inning with tightness in his shoulder. He said the pain is similar to what he felt in 2005 when he missed more than half the season with a strain. Wright has had two surgeries on the shoulder and gone on the disabled list four times since 2000.

"There's a lot of pain, but today, after the treatment and stuff, it feels a lot better than when I got here this morning, so that's encouraging," he said.

Hayden Penn figured to be the Orioles' first choice to replace Wright if the veteran went on the disabled list, but Penn was scratched from Tuesday's start at Triple-A Norfolk because of soreness in his right forearm area. He's scheduled to pitch tomorrow if the discomfort subsides, but David Stockstill, director of minor league operations, said those plans could change because of the cold weather.

Jim Duquette, vice president of baseball operations, said Penn is "probably not an option at this point" for the Orioles.

Opportunities keep slipping away from Penn, who allowed two runs and struck out six in five innings during last Thursday's start for Norfolk. Last season, he underwent an emergency appendectomy May 23 after being recalled from the minors to start in Seattle, and this year a sprained ankle in spring training hurt his chances of making the team.

The Orioles could turn to Jeremy Guthrie, who has allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings - both appearances coming in relief of Wright - or Norfolk left-hander Garrett Olson.

"We've just hashed a few things around," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We haven't come up with anything yet. We've got a couple plans."

Birkins finally gets call

In the statistical packet that's distributed in the press box before every game, three Orioles pitchers were listed as having no appearances before last night.

Kris Benson and Sendy Rleal are on the disabled list. Kurt Birkins was in the bullpen, waiting for a call. He finally got it in the 12th inning, the eighth Orioles pitcher of the night.

Birkins had warmed up the past two nights without pitching. His last appearance came at the minor league camp on March 30.

"I'm fresh," he said before the game. "I feel good. I feel ready."

Birkins was supposed to be starting for Norfolk, but the Orioles recalled him after placing catcher Ramon Hernandez on the disabled list. He originally was scheduled to start Sunday's game for the Tides.

"I was surprised when I got the call from the Orioles, but I wasn't going to question it," said Birkins, who went 5-2 with a 4.94 ERA in 35 games with them last season. "I felt like I had a good year and I was hoping I'd still get an opportunity. I just didn't think it would come three games into the year. But three games, three months, I don't care. I'll take it."

Throwing off any questions

After five Minnesota Twins stole bases against him in the second game, backup catcher Alberto Castillo threw out two Detroit Tigers and picked off Carlos Guillen at first base during Tuesday's loss.

"They held the runners real well, I was quick from the plate to second base, and I got a chance to get them out," he said.

Four of the Twins steals came with Daniel Cabrera on the mound. Wright has a quicker delivery.

"Daniel's so big, it doesn't matter if he goes with a slide step or not. They read his movements," Castillo said.

Around the horn

Norfolk starter Rob Bell, who made a strong impression on the Orioles in spring training, was sent to the minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla., because of an infected middle finger on his pitching hand. ... The first 20,000 fans at tomorrow night's game against Kansas City will receive an Orioles knit beanie cap.

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