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Notes: Hairston journeys to center
07/31/2004 2:18 PM ET
NEW YORK -- At this point, nothing surprises Jerry Hairston. He has been transformed from an everyday second baseman to a designated hitter and then a left fielder and then a right fielder.

So he was rather blasé when he saw his name written as the starting center fielder before Saturday's game with the New York Yankees. Hairston has been unhappy with his utility-type role for the past three months and now it appears he will have to endure it for the rest of the season.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said Hairston in center is not a one-time thing. With Luis Matos not close to returning to the lineup because of a bruised right shin, Mazzilli said Hairston has a chance to be the everyday center fielder.

"We sat down and I asked him about it," Mazzilli said. "I said, 'I know you want to play second base, I understand that.' But I can't put [Brian] Roberts in the outfield. If [Hairston] had any reservations about it, I would not have done it. He's excited about it."

Larry Bigbie, considered to be the most viable option for center field, was in left field while Karim Garcia, whose experiment at center was uneven at best, was back in right field.

Hairston has voiced his displeasure over being moved around while Roberts, who is hitting 52 points less, appears secure at second base. He had hoped the position switching would not last until the end of the season.

"I just hope they reward me," he said. "I have been a team guy and I have done what they have asked. There's nothing I can do, so I am going to keep going out there and playing. I am going to take the same approach as I always do. I've got no control over it."

Hairston has not demanded a trade and said he holds hope the situation in Baltimore can be worked out. Until then, he could emerge as the everyday center fielder.

"I have asked Luis about it and am going to get some tips," he said. "They say the balls come off the bat more naturally and it's easier to track the balls. We'll just see what happens."

Gibbons anxious: Jay Gibbons participated in full pregame workouts on Friday and said a day later he feels as good as he did before his rash of injuries. Gibbons has missed the past six weeks with a herniated disc in his back and then a torn hip flexor muscle.

Gibbons said he is completely healthy and ready for a rehabilitation assignment likely with Single-A Frederick next week.

"The doctors did not let me start working out until I was a full go, so I am feeling great," he said. "I am anxious to get back into the lineup. Watching games on TV has been brutal for me."

The club expects Gibbons to return by Friday's game against Texas and assume his duties in right field.

"It's been hard for me to know they have had to put guys in right field because I have been hurt," he said. "But it's a relief to know that I can get out there 100 percent. I haven't really been healthy since April."

Gibbons said he also rehabilitated his back injury during his recovery from the torn hip flexor and has no discomfort.

Sign of things to come: A struggling Rafael Palmeiro was on the bench Saturday against right-hander Javier Vazquez and B.J. Surhoff was playing first base. Palmeiro is hitting just .245, is in a 0-for-14 slump and has four RBIs in the past 16 games.

The club is not expected to honor Palmeiro's option for next season and his playing time could decrease in the final two months.

Farm report: Jack Cust hit his 15th home run and Jose Leon had three hits as Triple-A Ottawa lost to Rochester, 5-3, on Friday in Canada. Sean Bergman allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings for the loss.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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