Cold at plate, Gibbons keeps bench warm

The Baltimore Sun

For now, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo has apparently decided to go with the nine guys who are swinging the bat the best, a decision that has pushed veteran Jay Gibbons into a reserve role.

Gibbons didn't play in the Orioles' 10-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians yesterday, the third straight game the outfielder-designated hitter remained on the bench. He hasn't played since going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in Friday's series opener.

Gibbons is 3-for-his-past-37, with his average sitting at .188. It wasn't a huge surprise that he sat both games over the weekend, because Cleveland started left-handers in both games. But yesterday, right-hander Fausto Carmona was on the mound for the Indians and Perlozzo stayed with Kevin Millar as his designated hitter.

"[The decision is] not easy, but Gibby's swing is still not where it's supposed to be," Perlozzo said. "We've got a couple guys swinging the bat. He's working real hard with [hitting coach Terry Crowley]. We actually talked about it today. He seemed to find something on the film [that] they're going to continue to work at. Hopefully, we can get him back in there."

On his way to the batting cage before yesterday's game, Gibbons brushed past a small group of reporters and playfully made it known that he was in no mood to answer questions. He also wasn't in the clubhouse when reporters were allowed in after the game. Perlozzo said he didn't talk to Gibbons yesterday, but the two did speak a couple of days ago.

"I told him, 'Be patient and keep working at it. We'll get you back in there as soon as we can,' " Perlozzo said.

Leicester up, Birkins down

Needing a fresh long reliever after Kurt Birkins pitched three innings Sunday, the Orioles purchased the contract of right-hander Jon Leicester yesterday and optioned Birkins to Triple-A Norfolk. To make room on the 40-man roster for Leicester, the Orioles transferred Adam Loewen to the 60-day disabled list.

"If we keep using [the long reliever] like that, we'll just keep rotating until we keep somebody fresh and available," Perlozzo said. "We just needed someone who could throw multiple innings."

Leicester, who was signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent in November, was 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts for Norfolk. Leicester, 28, hasn't pitched in the big leagues since May 2005 with the Chicago Cubs.

"It's part of the journey," said Leicester, who had been scheduled to start yesterday for Norfolk. "It's been a little while, a couple of injuries later. It's good to be back."

Leicester went to spring training with the Texas Rangers last year and made two starts with Triple-A Oklahoma before he tore an anterior cruciate ligament and missed the rest of the season.

Clemens doesn't surprise Orioles

Sunday's news that Roger Clemens had signed with the New York Yankees drew little more than a shrug from several Orioles.

"I could have told you it was coming," said Aubrey Huff, who was a teammate of Clemens' last season in Houston. "Once Andy [Pettitte] went there, I figured there probably was a good chance that he might go, too. It was just a little earlier than I expected. That's the way it is in baseball. Certain teams just got the money to do things, and some teams don't. That's the way the Yankees have been for a long time."

Said outfielder Jay Payton: "It's just the nature of the game. Like I've said, it makes it that much sweeter when you are able to knock teams like that off. They got all the resources. Half the guys in the league that are All-Stars want to play for them at some point in time. On the same note, since they beat me with the Mets in 2000, they haven't won a [World] Series."

Around the horn

Perlozzo said he expects Brian Burres to make his next scheduled start. ... Catcher Ramon Hernandez, the Orioles' hottest hitter, got yesterday off. Perlozzo said the catcher has been bothered by a sore ankle, though he is expected back in the lineup tonight. ... Miguel Tejada was 0-for-4 and saw his nine-game hitting streak end. ... The first 10,000 fans 15 and over to attend tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will receive an Erik Bedard T-shirt.

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