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Gibbons Returns In DH Role

August 1, 2006

By Mallory Rubin

Jay Gibbons returned to the Orioles July 29 after an extended stint on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right knee and was immediately thrust back into the clean-up spot in the lineup.

Gibbons initially injured the knee in late-May. He briefly returned to the club in mid-June before aggravating the injury and returning to the disabled list on June 13.

Jay Gibbons will DH until he is healthy enough to play the field. (Sabina Moran/PressBox)
Once Gibbons said he felt ready to play, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo did not want to waste any time getting his name into the lineup.

"There's no time to wait," Perlozzo said. "We need him. The only way we can get him back on track is to get him back in the lineup."

In five rehabilitation assignment games Gibbons struggled, going 0-for-8 at Single-A Frederick and 4-for-10 at Double-A Bowie. He said he could use 50 to 60 more at bats in order to start seeing the ball better, but would rather get those at bats at the major league level.

His knee is not fully healed, but Gibbons said it does not affect his swing and said he feels ready to serve as the team's designated hitter, the position he will likely occupy for much of the remainder of the season.

"I'm definitely not ready to play the field yet," Gibbons said. "I'm going to DH for the time being and if it starts to gradually get better maybe work into the field."

Gibbons said surgery on the knee is not an option.

"I've had more than one opinion and nobody wants to touch it," he said. "They tell me there's 10 different ways to do the surgery, which is a terrible sign, first of all, and that it's going to heal on its own eventually."

Despite the fact that he is happy to be back with the club in any capacity, Gibbons said he feels he is handcuffing Perlozzo a bit by coming back as a one-dimensional player. Perlozzo disagreed.

"He's not really handcuffing me," Perlozzo said. "We need his bat. We've got some people to play the outfield."

Javy Lopez, who has seen most of his playing time at DH as opposed to catcher this season, will now likely see another decrease in playing time. Before Saturday's game Perlozzo said he had not yet spoken to Lopez about this possibility because he did not know exactly when Gibbons would be ready to return. He said Lopez will still get his catching time and will relieve Gibbons at DH when needed.

Gibbons, who doubled and walked twice on Saturday, had a .274 average with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 48 games before being placed on the disabled list. His ability to hit for power and drive in runs was sorely missed by his teammates during his absence.

"We certainly need his power," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "We're not a team that hits a zillion home runs. So we need our guys that drive the ball. We need them in the lineup."

That power was on display Sunday as Gibbons collected four hits, including a home run, against the White Sox. He was also in the middle of the Orioles' ninth-inning comeback as he singled against closer Bobby Jenks.

Roberts, who is a close friend of Gibbons', said the extended time spent on the disabled list was very frustrating for Gibbons.

"Especially coming on the heels of the death of his mom at the same time, and then he was trying to play kind of to put that in the back of his mind and the next thing you know he's hurt two days later and two months later he's still hurt," Roberts said. "So I'm sure it's been very, very frustrating. As a teammate, you hate to see anybody go through something like that, especially one of your close friends."

Perlozzo hopes all the Orioles share these feelings.

"When you're a teammate and you see a guy who has been missing for a while who's a big part of your offense everyone should be happy that they're getting a guy back that can help them score runs and hopefully help us win some games," Perlozzo said.

Issue 1.15: August 3, 2006