Hit by pitch, Millar suffers cut on finger

The Baltimore Sun

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Orioles didn't mind losing an exhibition game yesterday, as long as they didn't lose their cleanup hitter, too.

First baseman Kevin Millar suffered a one-inch gash on his left pinkie finger after being struck by a pitch by Russ Springer in the fifth inning of the Orioles' 7-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. X-rays didn't reveal any breaks, and Millar received one stitch to close the wound.

"Anytime you get hit in the hand, you always have to worry," said Millar, who's batting .342 with two homers and seven RBIs in 15 games. "You don't know, and there's so many bones. But the good news is there's no break, and it will probably be a two-day thing.

"It's a good finger to have, because I hang that finger off [the bat]. It's not on my throwing hand. If we were playing the Yankees tomorrow, I'd probably tape it up."

Millar jumped in the air after being hit, and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells raced to home plate. Millar knew he had avoided a break when he didn't feel a sharp pain while moving the finger, but he was bleeding after removing his batting glove.

"He got lucky," manager Dave Trembley said. "I'm glad he didn't get it flush in the hand. He could have broken it."

Guthrie or Trachsel?

Trembley will wait until today to name his Opening Day starter. He needed to consult yesterday with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Adam Dunn, who stayed back to watch Steve Trachsel throw a simulated game.

The decision comes down to Trachsel and Jeremy Guthrie, who surrendered four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings yesterday.

"I've got to play this thing out as long as I possibly can," Trembley said, smiling.

Guthrie has allowed seven earned runs and 17 hits in 13 2/3 innings. Trachsel, who signed a minor league contract last month, has surrendered 10 earned runs and 19 hits in 13 innings.

Catchers impress Dempsey

Rick Dempsey, who was in uniform as an instructor before resuming his analyst duties on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, came away impressed with the catchers in camp. And as someone who played the position in the majors for 24 years, his opinion counts.

On Guillermo Quiroz, expected to be named the backup to starter Ramon Hernandez: "I really like Quiroz. He's a good catch-and-throw. Pitchers like throwing to him. And he's a communicator. That's a great thing."

On Mike Costanzo, who's learning to catch for the first time: "Good flexibility, good arm. I like the fact that he already has good footwork. He's a natural athlete. If he's given the chance to catch games elsewhere, I think he'll be a big asset -- a left-handed hitting catcher with a great swing. It wouldn't take him long."

On Matt Wieters, the fifth overall pick in last year's draft who spent about three weeks in camp: "Very polished. There are very few things he'll need to do to catch in the majors. If I made one suggestion, he needs a little bit better setup with men in scoring position. He's a little too relaxed. But man, does he have a good release."

Around the horn

Reliever Rocky Cherry allowed his first run in 10 innings yesterday. ... Adam Loewen said he hasn't felt any soreness in his left shoulder since making his latest start. ... Jay Gibbons was scratched from the lineup because of back stiffness. ... Reliever Jim Hoey isn't expected to pitch again until early May because of shoulder soreness.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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