Tigers reliever Alburquerque struck in the head by line drive during batting practice

Orioles batting practice came to a standstill Friday afternoon when Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque was struck in the side of the head by a Robert Andino line drive.

Alburquerque, who was playing catch in shallow left field and didn't see Andino's liner coming, was taken off the field on a cart. He was later brought to the University of Maryland Hospital, where he had a CT Scan performed. He was diagnosed with a concussion and will be held there overnight.

"On a baseball field, somebody gets hit in the head, that's always going to scare you," Andino said. "I'm thinking about it a lot. You never want to see a guy get hit in a head."

After falling to the ground, Alburquerque's legs flailed in several directions as teammates rushed to his side. Athletic trainers from both teams also rushed out to left field, along with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and several of his players.

Andino said he was so shaken that he didn't want to hit anymore.

"I hit it and I saw where it was going and he wasn't looking," said Andino who started at second base for the Orioles Friday. "I tried to yell, but it was too late. I think it hit him in the ear."

Alburquerque eventually got to his feet with the assistance of medical personnel before he was taken off the field.

The 25-year-old has been one of the Tigers' best relievers, going 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 34 appearances, and allowing just 18 hits in 37 appearances.

Matusz likely to pitch Tuesday

The Orioles haven't finalized their rotation plans over the next week, but Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Brian Matusz remains the frontrunner to join the team and start Tuesday in Oakland. Matusz, who threw a complete-game shutout Thursday against Lehigh Valley, would take Chris Tillman's spot in the rotation.

Showalter said the club is primarily deciding between Matusz and Brad Bergesen, who threw 4 1/3 innings in relief of Tillman in Thursday's loss to the Chicago White Sox. Showalter did acknowledge that there is some consideration being given to keeping Bergesen in the bullpen, where he is having some success.

"That's part of it, but it's not like Brad has never had success as a starter," Showalter said. "We're not going to lower our standards about what needs to be done here to be a pitcher in the big leagues. … There are certain things we have to do here to have a chance. Some of our starts haven't been good enough on a consistent basis. I still think Tillman has a chance, but there will be other people who will get an opportunity if you don't grasp it."

Matusz is 2-3 with a 3.46 ERA in nine starts for Norfolk and has allowed four earned runs in his last 23 innings (1.57 ERA) after going 1-4 with an 8.77 ERA in six starts with the Orioles this season.

Brian's Bash cancelled

The sixth-annual Brian's Baseball Bash — a fundraiser for the University of Maryland Children's Hospital hosted by Brian Roberts and scheduled for Aug.28 — has been cancelled because of the veteran second baseman's injury status.

"This event has grown tremendously over the past five years and is truly special to my wife Diana and me, and that makes this decision a difficult one," said Roberts who hasn't played since May 16 after sustaining a concussion. "My focus will be to improve my health so I can get back on the field as soon as possible, and return to supporting some of the Baltimore community initiatives we have developed and contribute to."

Roberts is still experiencing some concussion symptoms, and it's uncertain if he'll play again this season. Showalter said Roberts had a good day Friday and hasn't gotten headaches in a couple of days. Showalter also didn't rule out the possibility of Roberts returning to action before the end of the season.

Those who have purchased admission for Brian's Bash, which would have been held at Dave & Buster's in Arundel Mills Mall, can obtain full refunds by calling Krista Ellis at (410) 328-6064 or emailing her at kellis@umm.edu.

Esposito in for physical

Jason Esposito, the Vanderbilt third baseman whom the Orioles drafted in the second round, was at Camden Yards Friday to take a physical.

The Orioles remain in negotiations with Esposito, but passing a physical is a prerequisite before finalizing a deal. The Orioles will have until midnight Monday to sign all their 2011 draft picks.

Director of Amateur Scouting Joe Jordan's primary focus before Monday's deadline is agreeing to terms with first-round pick Dylan Bundy, Esposito and six-round pick Nick Delmonico. Jordan has expressed some frustration with his inability to reach an agreement with Esposito.

Around the horn

Right-handed reliever Willie Eyre had his contract purchased from Triple-A Norfolk, and he took Tillman's spot on the 25-man roster. Eyre, 33, allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings for Norfolk. He last pitched in the big leagues in September 2009 … Jake Arrieta had succesful surgery to remove a bone chip in his right elbow Friday, and he's expected to be ready for spring training. The surgery was performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum in California. Arrieta was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Eyre. … Showalter juggled his lineup again, moving Vladimir Guerrero out of the cleanup spot for the first time all year and batting Nolan Reimold at leadoff for the first time this season and the second time in his career. Adam Jones hit cleanup, while Guerrero batted fifth … … Orioles closer Kevin Gregg will be signing autographs and meeting fans Saturday from noon until 1 p.m. at the newly-renovated AT&T Store at the Festival at Woodholme Shopping Center in Pikesville.


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