Revival hits a snag

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Nonroster right-hander Brad Hennessey was looking to open some eyes with yesterday's starting assignment in the Orioles' Grapefruit League opener against the New York Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Now, he just has to hope he hasn't already closed the book on his opportunity to win a place in the major league rotation.

Hennessey couldn't finish his second inning and had to leave the game with a sore right elbow. He was examined by Orioles orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and is hoping he was simply the victim of first-outing fatigue, but it certainly was not the way he or the Orioles wanted to begin the exhibition season.

"Hopefully, it's not too serious," he said. "Hopefully, I'm going to be fine and get back out there in the near future. It was tough warming up for the second inning, and it just got worse from there. Hopefully, there's no ligament damage. We'll see how it feels when I wake up tomorrow."

Hennessey is trying to revive his career after struggling through a difficult 2008 season with the San Francisco Giants and Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. He was 1-2 with a 7.81 ERA in 17 appearances in the majors. He signed a minor league contract with the Orioles but came into camp considered a legitimate contender to win one of the three open slots in the rotation.

New York Mets starter Sean Green also left the game early with an injury, facing just four batters before a crack in the nail on his middle finger forced him off the mound.

Looking at new guys

Orioles manager Dave Trembley lightheartedly bristled at questions before the game about his lineup, which included only three regulars - Adam Jones, Luke Scott and Gregg Zaun.

"We want to see the new guys play," he said. "It's a long spring training. For me, it's important that [Cesar] Izturis and [Brian] Roberts and [Melvin] Mora and [Aubrey] Huff get in a lot of fundamental work in the back and they bond, getting to know each other, working on the little things that are going to be a big part of our game - infield defense, bunting, base running, a lot of the fundamentals."

He said the loss of infielders Mora and Izturis to the World Baseball Classic also has affected his plans for the lineup early in the exhibition season.

"We're losing Mora and Izturis on [Sunday], so as much practice time as I can give those guys is to our benefit," he said. "I think you'll see that when we're all playing the game, they'll be playing at the same time. That will be the set - Huff, Roberts, Izturis and Mora. You'll probably see that tomorrow."

Pauley rocked

Former Boston Red Sox prospect David Pauley, who also is a candidate for the rotation, was hit hard in his exhibition debut, lasting just a third of an inning and giving up four earned runs on five hits and a walk.

"He came here with a reputation as a strike-thrower," Trembley said. "We didn't see that today. It was his first time out there with us, so he may have been a little nervous."

Orioles of rank

When Baseball America named Matt Wieters the top major league prospect of 2009, he became the first Orioles player so honored since the publication started its top-100 list in 1990.

The closest any Oriole came before was pitcher Ben McDonald, who was ranked second on the first list after being considered perhaps the most coveted drafted player in history the year before.

Only two other Orioles have made the top five. Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds was listed as the No. 3 prospect in 1994, and Arthur Rhodes was the No. 5 prospect in 1992.

Only once in the 20 years of the list has the No. 1 player been a total bust. That was Brien Taylor, the New York Yankees prospect who was tops on the list in 1992 and never made it to the majors, and that was largely because of an off-the-field injury.

No first for Wieters

Trembley was asked whether there was any chance of his putting Wieters into a camp game at first base. He looked as if somebody told him we had just landed a man on the sun.

"I'd like to keep my job for a while," he said. "If I sent him out there and he got hit in the face with a ball, it would be 'Bye-bye, baby.' "

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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