For the second time this season, the Orioles have lost their starting catcher to injury.
Ramon Hernandez went on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a bruised groin, an injury he suffered when hit by a foul tip in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game against the Seattle Mariners. He's eligible to return June 22, which he said is likely to happen.
To take Hernandez's place, the Orioles purchased catcher Alberto Castillo's contract from Triple-A Norfolk. Castillo appeared in eight games with the Orioles when Hernandez began the season on the DL with a strained oblique muscle, going 4-for-23 before being designated for assignment.
"It's sore, painful, so there's no reason I can play like that. If I get hit there again, it could get worse," said Hernandez, who was batting .244 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 34 games.
"I've been hit there before, but not that hard like I did that time. It's really painful right now."
Paul Bako will get the majority of starts in Hernandez's absence.
"It's not a good thing when it's your No. 1 catcher that hits and catches well and drives in runs and handles your staff," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "But we did that earlier in the season and hung in there, and it'll be up to the rest of the guys to pick up a little slack. That's the only way to keep moving forward."
Healing going slowly for Loewen
Adam Loewen is scheduled to have his fractured left elbow re-examined Wednesday by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., but the Orioles are convinced the bone is healing slower than anticipated.
Surgery hasn't been ruled out, but the Orioles will wait until Loewen undergoes more tests before deciding whether it's necessary. Loewen still hopes to pitch later this season.
"I feel great," he said. "I'll visit Dr. Andrews and he'll go over the CT scans that we've taken this week. Chances are we'll probably do the same thing in another two weeks, take another CT scan to see how everything is going.
"All they pretty much say to me is it's showing signs of healing, but they can't give me a timeline as to when I can come back."
Loewen most recently was examined Wednesday.
"The results showed some healing, but we'll have a better idea in two weeks where we stand," vice president Jim Duquette said. "The doctor had expressed that it was healing a little slower, but it's still in that stage where you can't predict much more than that."
R. Lopez returns to Baltimore
Former Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez sat in the visitors' dugout at Camden Yards and said he wished he had left under different circumstances. But Lopez doesn't believe he has anything to prove to his old team when he faces them tonight.
"I think I have been proving myself to people for five years, the kind of pitcher I am," said Lopez, who was traded to the Colorado Rockies for two minor leaguers in January after spending five seasons with the Orioles.
Lopez was the Opening Day starter three times in four years, but he struggled badly last season, going 9-18 with a 5.90 ERA and eventually being demoted to the bullpen.
"It's not the way I wanted to go out of Baltimore. I would have liked to have had a winning season," he said.
Lopez said he felt like the team gave up on him and he never clicked with pitching coach Leo Mazzone.
"Our relationship wasn't really good. It wasn't what you'd call friends," said Lopez, who missed six weeks with an elbow strain and is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in five starts. "My prior two pitching coaches, Mark Wiley and Ray Miller, I feel a friendship with them. I'm not judging Leo, it's just our relationship was never that close."
Around the horn
The Orioles don't expect to bring up any relievers this weekend. ... In the 35th round of the draft, the Orioles selected Perlozzo's son, Eric, a middle infielder from Shippensburg University. "I told them last year, 'I can guarantee you're going to get a good kid, and if he hits a little bit, you're going to get a great player,'" Sam Perlozzo said. ... The Orioles also chose McDonogh pitcher Joseph Yermal in the 39th round, Towson University catcher Preston Pehrson in the 47th round and Mount St. Mary's shortstop Michael Gioioso in the 50th round.
Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.