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With Roberts ill, Patterson gets to lead off

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles used a different leadoff hitter last night, a decision that arrived to them as second baseman Brian Roberts left Camden Yards.

Roberts drove away from the ballpark around 3:15 p.m. after complaining of flu-like symptoms. He had made an appearance in Columbia earlier in the day and continued to feel worse as he headed to Baltimore.

"We'll try to keep him away from our guys," manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Corey Patterson replaced Roberts atop the lineup after batting seventh once and eighth on 12 occasions this season. He hit leadoff three times in 2006, going 2-for-11.

"I've batted everywhere in my career at one through nine, so it doesn't matter," Patterson said. "You've got to do the same things. You've just got to be patient and get a pitch you can handle. You really don't change a whole lot. Where I bat in the order isn't going to change my approach."

Perlozzo said choosing Patterson to bat leadoff "was kind of obvious."

"Put your speed guy up top," he said.

Honoring Robinson

In another change from the norm, Patterson wore No. 42 last night to honor Jackie Robinson, a plan that was put on hold after last Sunday's game was postponed because of rain.

"It means a great deal," Patterson said. "With the struggles that he went through to make things possible for myself and other African-Americans in baseball, I think it's great, not just in baseball but in society as well."

Patterson said he's confident that other African-American baseball players understand what Robinson symbolizes and the sacrifices that were made, though he wonders about athletes in other sports.

"I think African-Americans know what he went through in baseball because they play and they tend to pay attention to it a little bit more," he said.

Former catcher Lenny Webster was the last Oriole to wear No. 42 full time, during the 1999 season.

Hernandez 'pretty close'

Injured catcher Ramon Hernandez took batting practice again yesterday and fielded balls in the dirt as part of a drill to determine how much he has progressed from a strained left oblique muscle that's keeping him on the disabled list.

"It feels better," he said. "I think I'm pretty close."

Hernandez most likely will play two or three injury rehabilitation games before the Orioles activate him. He mentioned Double-A Bowie as a possibility, but the Baysox are on the road until Friday.

"The hard part is swinging the bat," he said. "Everything else I've been doing and it doesn't feel bad at all. The main thing is hitting.

"It's definitely frustrating because you want to play and you can't, and you can't help anybody, you can't help your teammates. It's frustrating after you play every day and then sit for three weeks and watch the games."

Wright aims for next Sunday

Jaret Wright threw about 50 pitches from the bullpen mound yesterday and said his right shoulder felt better than it did during his other side session Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

"I made progress from Tampa and that's what I was looking for today," he said.

Wright expects to pitch in a rehabilitation game Tuesday and is aiming to start again for the Orioles next Sunday.

"That's where we're at right now," he said, "but I know not to get too far ahead."

Jeremy Guthrie or Brian Burres most likely will take Wright's turn Tuesday.

Around the horn

A team official confirmed that pitcher Hayden Penn remains on the disabled list with a bone spur in his right elbow. He isn't scheduled to have surgery and will rehab at the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. The Orioles listed Penn's injury as right forearm soreness until he was examined last week by team orthopedist Dr. Andrew Cosgarea. ... Perlozzo said outfielder Jay Payton, activated from the disabled list Friday, will be in the lineup today. ... Shortstop Miguel Tejada was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position this season before delivering an RBI single in the first inning last night.

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