Sore Hernandez may not return until next week

The Baltimore Sun

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A day after taking batting practice for the first time, catcher Ramon Hernandez reported to Tropicana Field feeling sore and conceded he may not be back in the Orioles' lineup until early next week.

The original hope was Hernandez, who hasn't played this season because of a strained left oblique muscle, could make his season debut tomorrow, but the catcher no longer thinks that is realistic.

"I think it's going to feel better. I'm just taking it slow," said Hernandez, who took batting practice again yesterday. "This is only my second BP in almost three weeks. How am I going to play with two BPs? You need to give me at least four or five BPs so it gets strong."

Hernandez was adamant he didn't aggravate the injury, rather he was experiencing a little tightness he expected after not hitting against live pitching for so long.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo wasn't concerned, either, but he did acknowledge Hernandez may have to go out on a short rehabilitation assignment before he is ready to return to the lineup.

"He said he just feels it a little bit, so we are going to let him go ahead and hit again today and probably give him tomorrow off," Perlozzo said. "I really don't want to put a timetable on him, because he could come through today and have tomorrow off and feel pretty good."

Wright takes step

On the disabled list with right shoulder soreness, Jaret Wright threw a 41-pitch bullpen session yesterday. Wright had thrown off flat ground the previous two days, but yesterday marked the first time he threw off a mound since he was removed from his last start April 10 because of shoulder tightness.

"I felt OK," said Wright, who acknowledged he was rusty but was optimistic because he didn't feel new pain in the shoulder. "It was the first time on the mound. It's kind of like the first time playing catch. It's getting used to it again, but overall, I felt it was all right. I didn't feel anything throwing today that I did in that [April 10] game."

Wright will throw another bullpen session tomorrow, but he's still hopeful he can return to the rotation by the end of this month.

"I'll know a lot more Friday," he said. "I expected not to feel great today since it was the first time off the mound. ... [But] we accomplished what we needed to today to move forward."

Patterson in, Stern out

Orioles center fielder Corey Patterson made it to Tropicana Field in time for yesterday's game and was activated from the bereavement list. To make room for him on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned outfielder Adam Stern to Triple-A Norfolk. Stern played two games in the Devil Rays series as a defensive replacement but had no at-bats.

Perlozzo said it wouldn't have been fair to start Patterson, who was away from the team since Sunday and had landed in Florida only about an hour and 40 minutes before yesterday's first pitch. He was used as a pinch runner in the eighth inning and was stranded at third when pinch hitter Jay Gibbons struck out.

Reason for concern?

In three starts, Adam Loewen, who surrendered four earned runs on three hits and five walks Monday, has given the Orioles only 13 2/3 innings, averaging just under 94 pitches in his three outings. He has walked 12 batters, though neither Loewen nor Perlozzo said he is concerned with the pitcher's inability to minimize his pitch count and go longer in games.

In fact, Loewen said he knows how to fix the problem.

"I don't think I have a problem right now," said Loewen, who has a blister on one of his pitching fingers, but said that hasn't affected him. "It's easily fixable. I just have to pitch to contact more and I think I'll be all right next time out."

Parrish continues to baffle

How dominant has John Parrish been? After another scoreless inning yesterday, the left-handed reliever has not allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings. He has struck out 13 of the 26 hitters he has faced and recorded eight of his past 10 outs via strikeouts.

"He's been lights out," Orioles designated hitter Kevin Millar said. "This guy has been our secret weapon."

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