L. Hernandez ready to field next chance

The Baltimore Sun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Entering the season, the Orioles' starting shortstop position was Luis Hernandez's to lose.

Six weeks later, he has lost it.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley told Hernandez on Thursday that for the time being he would be the team's utility infielder and Freddie Bynum would start at short.

Hernandez, who batted .243 in 30 games and often looked tentative in the field, said yesterday that he was somewhat surprised by the move.

"It's still a long season. I think I am going to have more chances to play," said Hernandez, 23. "I don't get sad, I don't get mad. I feel great. I am still on the team, and I feel like I am going to have a chance and they want me to play."

For now, Hernandez will be spelling Bynum and second baseman Brian Roberts. Primarily a shortstop, Hernandez played two games at second last year, his first season in the big leagues.

"He's got enough arm strength to turn the double play from second," Trembley said. "I think he'll be OK in that position, but right now I am going to play Bynum, so his job is the utility guy. That's what it is. That doesn't necessarily mean he has to do anything different or anything better."

Hernandez said he didn't feel like he was pressing and that he wasn't concerned that the club might take away his starting spot if he didn't produce.

"I wasn't thinking [about it]. When I come here I play from the [beginning] and have fun, and that's it," he said. "I don't ever think what they are going to do. What they do is going to happen. If they do the right thing, it's the right thing. There's nothing I can do."

Early fire

Bynum went from playing at Double-A Bowie on a rehabilitation assignment for his surgically repaired knee to starting at shortstop in the majors in a day. And it was a baptism by fire. He had to field eight balls cleanly, including a grounder in the first.

"It was crazy," said Bynum, who admitted he was jittery before the first ground ball. "But, hey, I guess they wanted to see if I was ready. But I love getting all those ground balls. It made me feel part of the game more."

Trembley, who benched Hernandez in part because he wasn't aggressive in the field on Wednesday and failed to turn a key double play, said he was pleased with Bynum's performance.

"The ball finds you. He played great," Trembley said. " ... The game is like that. Bynum got tested early and made every play, and looked real comfortable. It's really what we needed coming off the day before."

McCrory waits

Rookie right-hander Bob McCrory made his major-league debut April 30 and then pitched the next day. He hasn't thrown in a game since - waiting more than a week.

McCrory struggled in both outings, recording a total of two outs while allowing six base runners. Trembley said that, and the fact the Orioles had been involved in a string of one-run games, has led to McCrory's layoff.

"I've got to get him in a game," Trembley said. "I think it was pretty evident that the two times he did pitch, he was overthrowing. ... I think we all concur that he needs to pitch, so I need to get him in a game to see where he's at."

McCrory has used the time to work on his mechanics with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Alan Dunn.

"They're giving me some opportunities to work some things out," said McCrory, who was Triple-A Norfolk's closer. "Hey, whenever they call my name I'll be ready. I've been throwing on the side, so its not like I haven't been throwing."

Around the horn

Trembley said he expected to make a decision on his rotation after last night's game against Kansas City. The team has three off days in a period of eight days starting Monday and Trembley likely could skip someone in the rotation, demote a pitcher and promote another hitter. He's using a three-man bench at the moment. ... Reliever Randor Bierd (shoulder discomfort) has yet to throw at the team's facility in Sarasota, Fla. ... Starter Adam Loewen is throwing long toss in Sarasota, but he has not faced hitters.


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