Gibbons Gets His First Chance

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2007

JUPITER, Fla., March 1 -- Jay Gibbons hoped he would get at least 10 ground balls in his first game of the spring at first base. Instead, Gibbons did not get one chance in four innings of work during the Baltimore Orioles' 8-6 loss to the Florida Marlins on Thursday.

"There is still a lot of timing involved just getting ready for the pitch," Gibbons said. "I had times where I was a little off, a little uncomfortable, and I had times where I felt normal. I think that's part of it too, just getting ready for the pitch and getting set."

Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo said Gibbons might get another chance at first base on Sunday or early next week. He will be the designated hitter on Friday in Baltimore's home exhibition opener against the Marlins. Gibbons is expected to split time at DH, first base and left field this season.

"We got him out there," Perlozzo said. "We got him in the ballgame to get him used to some positioning at first to get in the swing of it. I think that's what we need to do."

Williams's Healthy Outlook

Perlozzo said he was impressed with Todd Williams, who pitched a scoreless inning.

"Obviously, it felt a lot better than last spring," Williams said. "Last spring was a train wreck for me. This year, it feels a lot better to go out there and not have to worry about anything other than pitching."

Last spring, Williams injured his right shoulder in the first week of spring training and never seemed to recover. With all the free agent signings in the bullpen, Williams figures to be used in the sixth and seventh innings.

Gomez Back at It

Shortstop Chris Gomez was 2 for 2 with a two-run home run. He had a career-high 18-game hitting streak last season, a run that ended when he went hitless in the last game of the season.

Gomez is a "professional player picking up where he left off last year," Perlozzo said. "This is a guy who is a professional about his business on a daily basis. You never have to tell him anything. He's a joy to be around, really."

Baez Gets Going

In his Orioles debut, reliever Danys Baez allowed a hit and a walk in one inning. He was signed to a three-year, $19 million contract in the offseason.

"Again, all these guys, it's their first outings and they're veteran guys, they're still teeing it up a little bit," Perlozzo said. "We'll get them on track as we go along."

Stars of the Game

Nick Markakis, Corey Patterson and Jeff Fiorentino each had two hits. Patterson also scored three runs. Reliever Sendy Rleal, who was on the Orioles' Opening Day roster last year but is a long shot to make the team this season, pitched two scoreless innings.

Ninth-Inning Letdown The Orioles lost their opener in the ninth inning when rookie Fredy Deza gave up a two-run homer to Marlins infielder Jason Wood. Up Next vs. Florida in Fort Lauderdale, 1:05 p.m.

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