Notes: Starters out of commission

Notes: Starters out of commission

BALTIMORE -- For an organization that had everything work out as planned in the first six weeks of the season, the Orioles are beginning to wonder whether this recent stretch is simply the scales evening a bit or if they are truly doomed.

With a crucial four-game series with the Boston Red Sox approaching, the Orioles were forced to put another starter on the disabled list Saturday. Outfielder Larry Bigbie's lingering hamstring injury was not improving and the club decided to shut him down for at least two weeks.

The Orioles have placed five starters -- Bigbie, Erik Bedard, Luis Matos, Sammy Sosa and Javy Lopez -- on the DL in the past 18 days.

"It's definitely not enjoyable," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "But it's part of the game. We have to keep going with the guys we have in here."

Having already dug into Class A Frederick for Jeff Fiorentino and Double-A Bowie for Saturday starter Hayden Penn, the Orioles again made a surprising move by purchasing the contract of 28-year-old career Minor Leaguer Napoleon Calzado to take Bigbie's spot on the roster.

Calzado spent more than six years in the Orioles' system before he was traded to Atlanta on April 14, 2004. He won the Southern League batting title for Double-A Greenville. He also re-signed with the Orioles last December and hit .313 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 41 games for Ottawa.

He can play left field, third base and first base. Mazzilli said he will serve as a pinch hitter and pinch runner. Calzado played in 735 Minor League games before getting the call.

"I will do anything they want me to do," he said through an interpreter. "I'm ready to play no matter what. I thought I had a much better chance here to make the Major Leagues than I did in Atlanta. I am happy."

The club considered Alejando Freire, but he is in Venezuela because of the death of his father. Keith Reed could not be recalled because he had not been back in Triple-A for the required 10-day period.

To make room for Calzado on the 40-man roster, the club designated outfielder Tim Raines Jr. for assignment. The organization has soured on Raines and he got off to a poor start for Ottawa, hitting .196 at the time the club promoted Fiorentino. He has raised that clip to .238 but now he will be exposed to waivers.

Since Raines has a Major League option left, he could not reject a Minor League assignment if he clears waivers.

Bigbie missed five games on the Orioles' recent road trip because of the injury and then re-aggravated it Thursday against Seattle, when it appeared he was getting late jumps on fly balls.

"I don't think we could wait four or five days until he can come back and play," Mazzilli said. "This way we don't put the pressure on him coming back too soon."

The outfielder was hitting .241 in 33 games this season, including .208 against right-handed pitchers.

"It's just frustrating as a whole," he said. "I just feel like this season everything is going right for the team, but for me personally it's not a good feeling when the team's playing well and I haven't done much to contribute. I know that I'm a better player than I've been playing and that's the most frustrating thing about it."

Lopez has surgery: Lopez, who broke the fifth metacarpal on his right hand Tuesday, had successful surgery to insert a plate on the hand. He said he hopes to be back by late July or early August.

Doctors told Lopez he could resume baseball activities in about six weeks. He had a heavy cast on the hand, which was considerably swelled.

Lopez, who advanced to the postseason in each of his 10 years with Atlanta, said the Orioles can survive this bout with injuries.

"That's what I keep telling everybody, it's better [to go through this] now than at the end of the season," he said. "I think we have the pitching to survive. We've got to keep winning. We just have to look ahead and forget about the teams behind us. We have to worry about ourselves."

Bedard speaks, sort of: Bedard was placed on the DL on Thursday with a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. A man of few words, Bedard said the knee had been bothering him the past couple of outings.

"I'll know when I will be back in two weeks," he said. "It's always disappointing, but I'll try to get through and see what happens in a few weeks. I'll throw a little bit now and hopefully I can be behind that much."

Coming up: The Orioles take on the Detroit Tigers in the final game of a three-game series at Camden Yards. Left-hander Bruce Chen takes on lefty Wilfredo Ledezma. Chen has faced the Tigers once in his career, allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings last season at Camden Yards on Sunday.

Gary Washburn is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.