Gibbons likely headed to minor league camp

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles are leaning toward sending Jay Gibbons to the minor league camp to play in the instructional league while he serves a 15-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's rules against performance-enhancing drugs. A final decision is expected by tomorrow.

Part of the delay is based on the confusion over whether Gibbons would be allowed to go on a rehabilitation assignment with one of the Orioles' affiliates. It's believed he's prohibited from doing so, but team officials are looking into it.

Gibbons would prefer to work out with the Orioles in Baltimore and get his at-bats with a minor league team while they're on the road.

"I'm not sure if he can go to Bowie, Frederick, any of those places, because he's suspended, so we're going to check on that," manager Dave Trembley said. "That's why I think he has to go to extended spring training. ..."

Trembley said he didn't know whether Gibbons would break camp with the rest of the team Friday or stay back in Florida.

Cherry stays calm

If the Orioles have learned anything about reliever Rocky Cherry this spring, it's his ability to pitch out of trouble. And he has provided enough examples to get his message across.

Cherry hadn't allowed a run in nine innings, despite surrendering seven hits and walking six batters, until the St. Louis Cardinals scored once after he entered Friday's game.

"To be honest with you, early in the spring I didn't feel like I was throwing the ball that well," said Cherry, who made his first back-to-back appearances after retiring the New York Mets in order Thursday night. "I went out there and I competed, and when I got in trouble, I didn't give up. I tried to make things happen. Now, I finally feel like I'm starting to throw the ball a little bit better. And I keep getting stronger."

Cherry, acquired from the Chicago Cubs with infielder Scott Moore in August for pitcher Steve Trachsel, loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning of a tie game two weeks ago and escaped the jam. Last week, he allowed two ground-ball hits and a walk without a runner scoring.

"I stayed calm in those situations and competed, and I think they like that," he said.

This might be the only way for Cherry to get noticed in a camp where much of the attention has fallen on new acquisitions Greg Aquino, Dennis Sarfate and Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd.

"I knew when I came here that I probably wasn't a top priority," he said, "but I just wanted to come out and throw the ball, and so far everything has kind of worked out."

He's also healthy after rehabbing a sore arm over the winter.

"He's a guy who, if he doesn't get full extension with his arm, he doesn't have a whole lot of finish," Trembley said. "I haven't seen very much of that this spring. His arm must feel real good."

Around the horn

The Orioles reassigned pitcher Lance Cormier to minor league camp. Cormier was trying to make the club as a long reliever, but he allowed 14 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings for a 17.18 ERA. ... Kevin Millar is expected to return to the lineup today after being hit on the left pinkie finger by Russ Springer's pitch during Friday's game and receiving a stitch to close the wound.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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