Gibbons can't explain 0-for-21 hitless streak

The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND -- Orioles designated hitter Jay Gibbons knew that things were going extremely poorly for him. He just didn't know how bad it had gotten. When informed that he was 0-for-his-past-21, the longest hitless stretch of his career, Gibbons mumbled, "Ouch."

"I had no idea," said Gibbons, who is hitting .191 with no home runs and seven RBIs. "I wish I had an answer. The only thing I can do is keep working at it and try to break out of it."

Gibbons' struggles have made for a dilemma for manager Sam Perlozzo, who has vowed to put his best team on the field, but also knows the club is going to need Gibbons to produce this season.

At this point, Perlozzo seems set with Jay Payton as the starting left fielder and a platoon at designated hitter between Gibbons and Kevin Millar, who entered last night with a .372 on-base percentage, the best among Orioles with eight or more at-bats. With left-hander Jeremy Sowers on the mound last night for the Cleveland Indians, Millar made his first start in the past three games.

"It's one of those things we have to work our way through," Perlozzo said. "Hopefully, someone steps up and takes it for a while, but at the same time, we have to keep everyone sharp because they are all on the team."

Gibbons showed some signs of discovering his swing in Friday night's loss, lining out to first base and hitting a deep shot that was caught in front of the left-center-field wall. He went 0-for-4 and hasn't had a hit since April 17.

"Obviously, I'd like to see him start swinging the bat better because we know he is a much better player than he has shown," Perlozzo said. "Right now, I am sure a lot of it is confidence. He's pressing a little bit. We need to get him on track somehow."

Gibbons doesn't want to make excuses and claims that he hasn't been affected by the platoon situation.

"Twenty-one at-bats has to be some bad luck too, but there's a lot of [stinking] in those 21 at-bats," he said. "It's hard to say, 'Keep going, keep going.' You can only take so many pats on the back before you start getting frustrated. I don't know what to say. I'm just going to go out there and keep swinging, and hopefully, swing my way out of it eventually.

"I know we've got a lot more guys now, and if I was hitting well I'd be in the lineup today, but it's not affecting me at the plate. What's affecting me at the plate is my swing. ... Maybe I'm thinking too much. I'm just trying to get my mechanics right."

Wright ready

Orioles pitcher Jaret Wright, who will come off the disabled list and make today's start, has spent significant time in the training room, making sure his right shoulder is ready for the challenge.

"Everything that is available, we're doing," said Wright, who also said that he is confident that his shoulder will pass the test. "Once you know you are going to start, you have to focus on the game. You just have to prepare like it is another start because you can't have any mental reservations going into the game. That will set you up for failure. I have to go in like I do every time, like everything is going to be good and I am going to have my best stuff."

Glued to the tube

Several televisions in the Orioles' clubhouse before the game were tuned into the NFL draft, and players spent significant time following the drop of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who fell to No. 22 after the Cleveland Browns traded to get that pick.

Gibbons and second baseman Brian Roberts were particularly interested. They worked out with Quinn for six weeks this offseason at Athletes' Performance in Arizona.

"I was devastated for him, though it looks like it worked out," Gibbons said after Quinn was selected. "He was just a great guy, real quiet and humble, and he is an absolute physical specimen. He signed a Notre Dame helmet for my wife."

Around the horn

Perlozzo said reliever Scott Williamson, on the disabled list with tightness in his right triceps, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session last night at Double-A Bowie. Perlozzo wants Williamson to throw two two-inning outings, likely at Bowie, to build up his arm before he returns. ... Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada played in his 1,104th straight game last night, officially passing Joe Sewell and taking sole position of sixth place on the longest consecutive games streak list.

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