Notes: Ponson's thumb OK

Notes: Ponson's thumb okay

BALTIMORE -- Sidney Ponson walked down the hallway of the Orioles' clubhouse and just before he slipped into the video room, the pitcher stopped and watched the horde of media members surrounding head trainer Richie Bancells.

Ponson probably knew what Bancells was addressing, but he showed no emotion as he walked in to look at game tape. Bancells said on Friday there was good news regarding Ponson's bruised right thumb that caused him to leave Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers in the third inning.

Ponson reached out and tried to stop Sandy Alomar's liner with his right hand and the ball struck his thumb. According to Bancells, X-rays were negative and there was no damage to the fingernail. He could make his next start on Tuesday at Anaheim, depending on whether the soreness subsides.

"It's very simple. It's a contusion at the tip of his right thumb. So it's just a matter of when the swelling dissipates," Bancells said. "The nail is fine. It hasn't even been 24 hours. And just from the standpoint from the bruising at the tip of finger, it looks very good. But it's pretty sore and like I said, it's been less than 24 hours."

Ponson is supposed to throw in the bullpen on Sunday and his return date could depend on whether he can withstand the pain of the bruise. He will not do any structural damage to the thumb by throwing.

"We'll probably know more [about] how he feels [when] he throws his next bullpen session," Bancells said. "That soreness could go away in a couple of days. X-rays were negative so we're just waiting to see when the soreness goes away. It hit right here [at the top of the finger], and the very tip of the nail got a lift on it. The nail is fine and intact. It's good. It's just a contusion. It's totally depends on his soreness level."

The injury likely would not affect Ponson's trade value and even if he remains in an Orioles uniform past the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, he could still be traded. Ponson was headed to the San Diego Padres for Phil Nevin before Nevin exercised his no-trade clause and voided the deal.

The Orioles could also move Ponson before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline and it likely would not be that difficult. Ponson would have to pass through waivers in order for the Orioles to complete a deal with another club after July 31 and with Ponson's hefty 5.80 ERA and $10 million salary, many clubs likely would pass on claiming him.

Meanwhile, Ponson's agent, Barry Praver, said on Friday that Ponson never rejected a trade to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Ponson has a limited no-trade clause and the Devil Rays are on that list. It was reported last weekend that Ponson nixed a proposed deal to Tampa Bay.

"Sidney has never been asked to waive his no-trade clause," Praver said on Friday. "Therefore, he has never rejected a trade to another club."

Injury report: Right fielder Jay Gibbons remained out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game because of back stiffness. An MRI was negative but Gibbons, who has battled back problems in the past, is expected to miss the weekend series.

Before he was ejected in the first inning by third-base umpire Mike DiMuro, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli shuffled up his lineup, giving Luis Matos the night off and putting David Newhan in center field while B.J. Surhoff got the nod in the right field. Sammy Sosa was the designated hitter.

Newhan went 1-for-3 with a run scored on Thursday and hit two scorching line drives that were caught in the loss to Texas. With Gibbons ailing and Eli Marrero (torn thumb ligaments) likely out for the season, Newhan could play a key role down the stretch.

He hit .366 in an 11-game stint with Triple-A Ottawa, and he regretted his negative comments about the Canadian capital when he was optioned there July 7. Newhan said he didn't want to go to Ottawa and criticized the fans. The Lynx have the lowest attendance in the International League.

"I got booed there and I deserved it," he said. "I was talking about the fans who don't show up to games. But I basically went there and got my confidence back and got play every day. That was a good thing for me. I was a little heated when I got sent down and I apologize about that."

Farm report: Rick Bauer pitched two scoreless innings and Alejandro Freire hit his 19th homer as Triple-A Ottawa cruised to a 7-3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

Coming up: The Orioles take on the White Sox in the second game of a four-game series on Saturday. Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 4.67 ERA) takes on right-hander Jose Contreras (6-6, 4.36 ERA). Cabrera earned his first Major League win against the White Sox in May 2004.

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