BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are not expecting left-hander Erik Bedard back in the rotation until at least mid-July after an examination of his left knee showed that his strained ligament is about two weeks from being healed. Bedard, who was placed on the disabled list on May 26, said he will rehabilitate his knee "for another week or two, and probably two." An MRI of the knee showed the medical collateral ligament was still strained. "They said it's healing, but slowly healing," Bedard said. "And I expected this. Usually, sprained knee ligaments take you out for four-to-six weeks. So this is not a surprise."
Bedard said he will wait until the knee is entirely healed before he begins pitching off a mound. He has been keeping his arm sharp by throwing off flat ground. "There's no reason not to wait," he said. "If I go out there earlier and I mess it up again, I will be out even longer. So it makes no sense to come back early." The club projected Bedard to miss two to three starts, but that has transformed into six weeks. Some in the organization are privately wondering when Bedard will return and if he will be at the level he was when he was injured. The left-hander was on a dominant streak, going 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 29 innings in May. Bedard said he had been pitching during that stretch in great pain, and an MRI revealed the strained ligament. Bedard is working out with a knee brace, but even when he is healthy, he will have to make at least two rehab starts to regain his arm strength. "We'll wait until the pain is gone and he feels like going out there again," executive vice president Jim Beattie said. "Some of these things have a life of their own. We thought it might be a couple of starts, and it took longer than that. It's going to be at least two weeks before he gets back on the mound." The Orioles have replaced Bedard in the rotation with rookie Hayden Penn, who collected three no-decisions before earning his first Major League win on Monday night against the Astros. Matching numbers: Jay Gibbons hit his 10th home run of the season in Monday's win, and the mark was unnoticed by everyone except him. The left-handed slugger took just 56 games to match his season home run total from last season. Gibbons suffered through a miserable season in 2004, when he hit 10 homers with 47 RBIs. He was limited to 97 games because of hip and back injuries. "I wasn't hitting with any power last season," Gibbons said. "I had no torque, because I was just not myself. But this season reminds me what I can do when I am hitting and also hitting well -- because at the beginning of last season, I wasn't hurt and I was still struggling." The difference between Gibbons' performance this year and last year is slugging percentage and doubles. He is hitting for a .528 slugging percentage, compared to .379 last season. He already has more doubles (16) than in 2004 (14).
Matos update: Center fielder Luis Matos went 1-for-4 -- the hit was a single -- with a strikeout in Double-A Bowie's 4-3 loss to Trenton on Monday. Matos is expected to play in four or five more games before being activated from the disabled list.
Meanwhile, left-hander John Parrish made his first appearance for Bowie, just hours after being demoted from the Orioles. He allowed one run and one hit in 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts. He also committed an error.
New kid in the 'pen: Relief pitcher Chris Ray didn't appear in Monday's game, his first since being called up from Bowie, but the 23-year-old right-hander had a front row seat to soak up the atmosphere of a Major League game.
Ray -- who attended games at Camden Yards as a fan -- was on the other side of the fence, sitting in the bullpen amongst veterans like Steve Reed, Steve Kline and B.J. Ryan.
"It was pretty incredible seeing all the fans and hanging out with the guys," Ray said. "They hang out and talk about the game -- it's fun."
Ray said the vets didn't give him too much of a hard time for being the new guy, but he felt like there was more attention on him being surrounded by more than 20,000 fans.
"Instead of you watching the guys down there, you're actually one of the guys that people came to watch," he said.
Tidbits: Former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and former Major League player Robin Ventura participated in a pregame ceremony for prostate cancer awareness.
Coming up: The Orioles will host the Astros in the final game of a three-game series at Camden Yards on Wednesday. Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (5-2, 4.52 ERA) will take on Houston rookie Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 8.41 ERA). This will be Lopez's first Major League appearance against Houston.
|Luis Matos / CF|
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. David Selig contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.