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Notes: Grappling with bench04/08/2004 8:12 PM ET
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Four games into the season, manager Lee Mazzilli said he is still trying to figure out how to use his bench.
The only change to the lineup so far has been B.J. Surhoff at designated hitter in place of David Segui. But the regular nine were in the lineup Thursday against Boston's Tim Wakefield with players such as Jack Cust, Jose Bautista and Luis Lopez waiting for their first significant playing time.
Mazzilli inserted all three in Wednesday's 10-3 loss to the Red Sox but eventually one of the Orioles' regular position players is going to need a breather.
Third baseman Melvin Mora was in a minor car accident before Wednesday's game but was able to play. When asked who would have filled in a third if Mora was unable to play, Mazzilli said, "I don't know because we never got to that point."
Bautista, a Rule 5 pick, collected his first Major League hit off Ramiro Mendoza on Wednesday and Mazzilli said he is trying to ease the infielder into the big league fray.
"I gave him a chance to pinch run to get him loose and last night was a good opportunity for an at-bat," he said. "I really don't know how we're going to use him yet."
Cust struck out in his season debut on Wednesday and the question is whether Mazzilli has enough confidence in the slugger to use him as a pinch hitter. Cust did not have a good spring and likely would have been in the minors had he not been out of minor-league options.
"You want to give guys some time to get comfortable," Mazzilli said. "It's still very early."
Mazzilli said he will be patient with leadoff hitter Brian Roberts, who entered Thursday 0-for-12 and had reached base just once. Roberts did induce a walk from Wakefield in the first inning Thursday but was left stranded.
Stephens claimed: The Orioles' addition of Lopez and Bautista to the 25-man roster came at a cost. Right-handed pitcher John Stephens, designated for assignment last Saturday, was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox.
Stephens, 24, was 6-7 with a 3.97 ERA for Triple-A Ottawa last season and was the Orioles' minor league pitcher of the year three times, most recently in 2002. The Orioles had to remove a player off the 40-man roster when they added Lopez and Bautista. Stephens entered Spring Training camp with a remote chance of cracking the starting rotation and was sent to minor-league camp after just four innings.
The Red Sox placed Stephens on their 40-man roster and he's expected to pitch for Triple-A Pawtucket. Many club officials felt Stephens' soft-throwing style would not be effective in the Major Leagues. He did make 11 starts for the Orioles in 2002, going 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA with 13 homers allowed in 65 innings.
Roster move: The Orioles have to make a roster move by Saturday to make room for left-hander Erik Bedard, who will make his first Major League start against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The potential candidate could be right-hander Rick Bauer, who likely would start for Triple-A Ottawa.
Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez has essentially taken Bauer's role as the long reliever and was effective in the season-opening win. Bauer pitched 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 10-3 loss and likely would not be available until next week.
Mazzilli was mum on the possible move.
Tampa Bay series: The pitching matchups have been announced for the three-game series with Tampa Bay beginning Friday at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Sidney Ponson (1-0, 1.59) will take on left-hander Mark Hendrickson (season debut) in the opener; left-hander Bedard will make his debut against right-hander Jeremi Gonzalez (0-1, 9.64) on Saturday while left-hander Eric DuBose (0-1, 5.06) takes on right-hander Victor Zambrano (2-0, 5.73).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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