Tejada eyeing Friday return; Ray is hurting

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles are close to regaining their starting shortstop, news that would be met more enthusiastically if they weren't so concerned about their closer.

Miguel Tejada has been cleared to engage in full baseball activities and will report to Double-A Bowie today to begin a brief injury rehabilitation assignment. He's scheduled to play six innings at shortstop.

Barring setbacks, the Orioles will transfer Tejada to Single-A Frederick tomorrow and activate him from the disabled list before Friday's game against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

Tejada has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a fracture in his left wrist. Reliever Chris Ray could be headed there after a magnetic resonance imaging on his right elbow Monday revealed a bone spur.

Ray wasn't available to pitch again last night because of continuing stiffness in the elbow. He'll throw today before the Orioles decide what to do with him.

"It's still a little bit sore today," said Ray, who wasn't used in the ninth inning of Sunday's 2-0 win over the Oakland Athletics. "We're just going to give it one more day to see if it feels better.

"You have concern anytime your arm doesn't feel the way it has been. That's why I'm not throwing today. I'm just hoping it's some soreness and nothing serious."

The Orioles aren't certain how long Ray has been carrying the spur. They'll most likely determine tomorrow whether he can attempt to pitch with it or will require treatment and further rest. He's taking medication to reduce the inflammation, and the Orioles could schedule an arthrogram, for which dye is injected in the elbow.

Pitching prospect Hayden Penn was diagnosed with a spur in his elbow this year and eventually underwent surgery to remove it. The Orioles could take the same course of action with Ray, though Penn's throwing motion was restricted. Ray hasn't been dealing with the same issue, and his fastball remains in the mid-90s.

"It's not like one pitch where it was hurt. It was just the next day," said Ray, who pitched a scoreless inning Friday night in his lone appearance on the six-game road trip. He has struck out 11 of the past 23 batters he's faced and is 5-6 with a 4.43 ERA and 16 saves.

Interim manager Dave Trembley said he would prefer to settle on one closer in Ray's absence. The Orioles signed Danys Baez during the winter to serve as a setup man and assume Ray's duties on occasion, but he was ineffective before going on the disabled list June 16 with a strained forearm. He has made three appearances since being activated and took the loss last Wednesday.

Tejada's streak of 1,152 consecutive games ended after San Diego Padres reliever Doug Brocail hit him on the wrist June 20. He stayed in the lineup the next day but left after attempting to bunt in the first inning.

Tejada took batting practice in the indoor cage yesterday because of the wet field conditions.

"His goal ... is to be ready and in uniform Friday night against the Yankees," Trembley said.

Said Tejada: "I've been feeling great the last two weeks, but it's more important for the doctors to say I'm fine. I don't have any pain. I'm feeling real excited to come back and play baseball."

In other injury news:

Third baseman Melvin Mora ran on a treadmill and said he's getting close to returning from a sprained ligament in his left foot that has kept him on the disabled list since July 13. He has been exercising on an elliptical machine and a stationary bike but hasn't been cleared for baseball activities.

Utility player Freddie Bynum was re-evaluated yesterday and remains on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He hasn't started baseball activities.


Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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