FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Utility player Freddie Bynum has decided to have arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight tear in the meniscus of his right knee, a decision that will likely keep the utility player out until mid-April and further erodes the Orioles' depth, specifically in the infield.
Bynum had been a candidate for the starting shortstop job or a utility spot on manager Dave Trembley's bench.
"I'm going to get it taken care of so I won't miss that much of the season," said Bynum, who will turn 28 on Saturday and hit .260 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 70 games last season for the Orioles. "I was just thinking about my career, trying to be healthy and do the things that I know that I can do, that my knee won't let me do right now."
Bynum decided on the surgery after feeling soreness after a light workout Friday. He will have it done in Baltimore this week, and Trembley said he will be shut down for at least three weeks. The surgery, coupled with a likely rehabilitation stint, is expected to keep him out until the third week of the season.
It's a tough break for Bynum, who was hoping to beat out Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey for the starting shortstop job. Bynum played games at four different positions last year, and his absence will leave Trembley with plenty of decisions to make as he tries to settle on his Opening Day bench. Outfielder-designated hitter Jay Gibbons is suspended for the first 15 days. Scott Moore, another utility candidate, has a groin strain and probably won't be available to play until the middle of this week at the earliest.
Trembley expressed specific concern about the utility position. Moore and Mike Costanzo can play several positions, but shortstop isn't one of them.
"The utility guy on this team needs to be able to play shortstop," Trembley said. "You could conceivably keep a guy like Moore or a guy like Costanzo, but you need a guy that can play second and short. With Bynum out, you're down to Fahey, and you would think that we would need a little more depth. ... Right now, we've got to address that."
Salazar swinging bat well
A year ago, the Orioles summoned Oscar Salazar from their minor league camp because they needed an extra infielder for split-squad games. Now, he's a nonroster player who could return to the majors this summer for the first time in six years. Salazar is hitting .400 with a home run in nine exhibition games. He has played third base and the corner outfield positions, and he's giving Trembley plenty of reasons to consider him for a role on the team at a later date. "I like Salazar's bat," Trembley said. "Salazar is an interesting guy down the road for us, especially perhaps during the season when we're playing National League clubs and there's no DH and you need a right-handed bat off the bench."
He hasn't played in the majors since 2002, when he appeared in eight games with the Detroit Tigers. Salazar, 29, was out of professional baseball for two years before signing with the Orioles as a minor league free agent in November 2006. He batted .289 with 22 homers and 89 RBIs at Double-A Bowie last season.
Around the horn
Luke Scott sat out his second consecutive game yesterday with a sore groin. ... Center fielder Adam Jones (stiff back) returned to the lineup and went 1-for-2.