Tomorrow Is Today in The Outfield

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 29, 2008

The lineup card hanging in the corridor leading to the visitor's clubhouse at Nationals Park last night once again identified Luke Scott as the starting left fielder against a left-handed pitcher, limiting outfielder Jay Payton's starting opportunities.

Scott has started five of the past eight games against left-handers. Payton hits .268 against lefties to Scott's .250, although Scott is hitting .368 in June.

"I've got four outfielders and today will be eight in a series of nine games against National League clubs, so what I've tried to do is get everybody in the games as best as I possibly can," Manager Dave Trembley said. "There's no particular rhyme or reason why somebody plays and somebody doesn't. I don't base it on what somebody does or doesn't do."

The Orioles' predicament is a good one. The roster includes four capable outfielders -- Payton, Scott, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Jones and Markakis are major parts of the Orioles' future, and Scott figures to be a key piece, too. Payton is 35 and becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

Payton started Friday night against Nationals lefty Odalis PĂ©rez. He went 0 for 4, although he was coming off two games against the Cubs in which he was 4 for 9 with seven RBI.

Payton, a 10-year veteran, has a .280 career average and is a versatile outfielder. He can provide the Orioles a veteran presence if they continue in the race or could be of value for a contending team if the Orioles' success turns.

"I know they're trying to get Luke some starts off lefties to get him some experience off lefties, because I know he's going to be in a Baltimore uniform a lot longer than I'm going to be," Payton said. "We have a winning record and we're trying to do something in the division. Hopefully that'll give me an opportunity to go out there and get me some at-bats if I'm swinging the bat good."

Albers Seeks Second Opinion

Right-handed pitcher Matt Albers said he would seek a second opinion on his torn labrum before deciding whether to have surgery. . . . Left-hander Brian Burres (stomach virus) might miss his scheduled start tomorrow.

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