Baltimore Orioles players held a closer-door, players-only meeting two hours before Thursday night's series finale at Dodger Stadium, in the wake of a four-game losing streak, a team-wide hitting slump and a growing list of disgruntled players.
"It was good for the team," said veteran shortstop Miguel Tejada, who declined to elaborate further on the meeting. The Orioles began the day in fourth place, a season-high seven games below .500 (27-34) and 14 games out of first place.
Another player said the meeting was called to address players' concerns and try to rebuild the team's sagging morale. At one point, the player said, it was mentioned that the Florida Marlins had a losing record deep into last year's championship season.
"I didn't call it," Manager Lee Mazzilli said of the meeting. "I don't know what [the players] are doing."
Lately, each day has brought a new element of intrigue. On Thursday, it was right-handed reliever Rick Bauer reporting shoulder soreness, three days after being rushed into a game at Cleveland when the dugout phone to the bullpen malfunctioned.
Bauer, who was visibly upset when he was optioned to Class AAA Ottawa on Tuesday, will be examined in Baltimore on Friday, and may be placed on the major league disabled list instead of being sent down. A player close to Bauer said the pitcher attributed the soreness to his appearance Monday in Cleveland.
Mazzilli Meets R. Lopez
Mazzilli also met privately with right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who on Wednesday aired publicly his dissatisfaction over the team's decision to move him from the starting rotation to the bullpen. The closed-door, one-on-one meeting was initiated by Lopez.
"Obviously, he wants to start. I can understand that," Mazzilli said. "[But] the bottom line is helping the team win." . . .
Mazzilli shuffled his lineup Thursday in hopes of shaking the offense loose from a slump in which they have batted .213 in their past 13 games. Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons were benched, and Luis Matos batted in the No. 2 spot for just the second time this season.
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Left-handed pitching prospect Ryan Hannaman, one of three pitchers the team acquired from the San Francisco Giants in last summer's Sidney Ponson trade, had season-ending surgery Thursday to mend fraying in both his labrum and rotator cuff.