Sore wrist keeps R. Hernandez out

The Baltimore Sun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Orioles starting catcher Ramon Hernandez sat out for the second consecutive game yesterday with a sore left wrist that has him concerned.

Hernandez said he has been dealing with wrist pain - which increases significantly when he turns his hand while swinging a bat - for about two weeks. He tried to play through it but decided before Saturday night's game that it hurt too much to grip a bat. He said he expects to see a doctor today in Baltimore.

"I've got to check it out," Hernandez said, "because you know that's the hand I had surgery on [in 2005]."

The pain, he said, is reminiscent of that season with the San Diego Padres in which he twice was placed on the disabled list because of a sprained wrist, eventually having it surgically repaired that July. He missed six weeks after surgery.

Hernandez, whose status is classified as day-to-day, said he hopes to avoid the disabled list. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he expects to have Hernandez available for tomorrow's game against the Boston Red Sox.

Hernandez said he likely could have caught yesterday if pressed into duty but would not have been able to pinch hit because "to continue a swing is very hard."

Hernandez is hitting .215 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 32 games but has shown recent signs of emerging from his slump. He had seven hits in 27 at-bats on the Orioles' 10-game road trip (.259 average) and was retired several times on hard-hit balls. And now he has to sit and watch - and hope that he can get back soon.

"That's how my luck has been going for me right now," he said.

Cintron gets call

The Orioles returned to 12 pitchers and a four-man bench yesterday by optioning reliever Bob McCrory to Triple-A Norfolk and purchasing the contract of veteran infielder Alex Cintron from the Tides.

It has been a long, strange odyssey for Cintron, 29, who thought he was on the verge of signing with the Orioles in February. He queried several players, including former Oriole Roberto Alomar, and was told Baltimore would be a great place to play.

But Cintron, a career .277 switch-hitter in seven major league seasons, said his agent talked him into signing with the Chicago Cubs, who released him toward the end of spring training.

On March 31, Cintron accepted a minor league offer from the Orioles and batted .288 in 16 games with Norfolk. He could have opted out of his Orioles contract Thursday if he had remained in the minors.

Trembley said Cintron would back up Brian Roberts at second base and Freddie Bynum at shortstop. Cintron pinch hit and played second base in the eighth inning yesterday in his Orioles debut. Bynum, Trembley said, will keep the starting job, "until he shows he can't do it."

McCrory, 25, appeared in two games, allowing two hits, four walks and four earned runs (54.00 ERA) while recording two outs. He hadn't pitched since May 1.

Walker struggling

Left-hander Jamie Walker, probably the club's best reliever in 2007, hasn't been nearly as effective this season. He has allowed seven of his 18 inherited runners to score, and left-handers are hitting .394 against him (13-for-33) after they batted .232 in the previous three years.

On Saturday, he started the seventh and allowed a triple and two singles, retiring no one.

"I beat myself up pretty good [Saturday] night after I got out of here," he said. "No excuses. I've just got to make better pitches and keep my head up."

Trembley said Walker is struggling with locating his pitches, but he isn't worried about the 36-year-old veteran.

"I don't think it is ever a matter of confidence with that guy. He's been around the block way too much for that to affect him," Trembley said. "I think he is intuitive enough and competitive enough that he'll rectify."

Around the horn

The majority of Orioles and Royals hitters used pink bats and wore pink sweatbands to help promote breast cancer awareness on Mother's Day. ... Aubrey Huff started at third base for the first time since Aug. 26, against the Minnesota Twins. It was Huff's 313th career start at third. ... Roberts (bruised foot) didn't play but said he should be available Tuesday.

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