BALTIMORE, April 6 -- The back pain that took Javy Lopez out of Monday's season opener is not serious, and the catcher returned to the Baltimore Orioles' lineup on Wednesday.
"Much better now," Lopez said. "Good to go. Not 100 percent, but it's good enough to play."
Lopez was removed from Monday's game after the sixth inning when he complained of lower back stiffness. Lopez said it was the same type of injury that had hampered him during the spring.
"The pain came up early in spring training and then it went away," Lopez said.
In order to avoid missing more time, Lopez said he would likely begin a new strengthening program for his back.
"I never exercised my lower back," Lopez said. "That's something that's now happened once and it will likely come up again.
"Now besides my stretching, I have to do exercises."
Wilson Lacking a Visa
Infielder Enrique Wilson has accepted his assignment to Class AAA Ottawa, but still must secure a visa. Wilson does not yet have a permanent work visa to play in Canada.
Foreign players are required to have a P-1 visa to play in the major leagues. They need an H-2 visa to play in the minors. Wilson, from the Dominican Republic, was late in applying for an H-2 visa and was denied.
Pitcher Jay Witasick has not yet informed the team whether he will accept his assignment to Ottawa, which begins play Thursday. He must make a decision before game time.
Who's on First?
Rafael Palmeiro made his second consecutive start at first base. Originally the Orioles had planned for Jay Gibbons to make most of the starts at first. Manager Lee Mazzilli said Palmeiro, considered the better fielder of the two, started because Oakland has several left-handed hitters in the lineup, meaning the first baseman would likely have more fielding chances. . . .
Oakland Athletics infielder Bobby Crosby, the reigning American League rookie of the year, was placed on the 15-day disabled list after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his rib. He was injured during Monday's season opener.