Since the Orioles have gotten little good news in the way of injuries this season, the latest word on pitcher Erik Bedard should come as little surprise. It appears the team's best starter for April and much of May will be out until after the all-star break.

When Bedard went on the disabled list with a strained ligament in his left knee he was expected to miss three starts. But his replacement, Hayden Penn, made his fourth start on Monday; the doctor's report stated that it would be at least two more weeks before Bedard can begin throwing off a mound.

Once Bedard begins mound work, he will need two more weeks of rehabilitation starts before he is ready to return to Baltimore, according to Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations.

"You can feel it yourself," Bedard said of the pain that lingers in his knee. "You can tell when you are hurting, you can feel it."

He said the doctor told him he is making progress, but that the progress is slow.

"I'd rather wait until it completely heals," said Bedard, who was 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA and appeared headed to an all-star slot until he got hurt.

Stay for a While

After earning his first major league victory Monday night, Penn was presented with the game ball by Sidney Ponson, who had retrieved it. Penn plans on giving the ball to his mother.

With Bedard out for at least another month, the 20-year-old Penn will be sticking around in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Manager Lee Mazzilli said he was impressed with Penn's poise in the short time the pitcher has been with the team.

"I know I've shown I can compete here," Penn said. . . .

Chris Ray pitched the ninth inning Tuesday in his major league debut.