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Notes: Orioles ban beer in clubhouse

Notes: Orioles ban beer in clubhouse

BALTIMORE -- The repercussions of Josh Hancock's tragic accident are spreading throughout the baseball world, and the ripples reached Camden Yards on Friday night. Baltimore's executives have decided that alcohol will no longer be available to players in the home clubhouse, a change in policy that alters years of established tradition.

Hancock, who passed away in a car crash last week, was found to have a high level of alcohol in his system. That's caused several teams to re-evaluate the creature comforts available to their players in the postgame spread, and the Orioles have decided it would be best to temporarily eliminate beer from the clubhouse cooler.

Jim Duquette, Baltimore's vice president of baseball operations, said the decision was made to protect the players and the organization from adverse situations that could be easily avoided. Beer will still be served in the visiting clubhouse -- at least for now -- but Baltimore's home clubhouse will be alcohol-free, for all intents and purposes.

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"We've been talking about this for a little bit anyway, prior to the whole incident in St. Louis. Obviously, that brings more focus to the matter," said Duquette. "When I was in New York, we always felt it would be a liability issue. [Executive vice president] Mike [Flanagan] and I talked about it, and we didn't feel we should be putting our players in a situation where they could potentially end up with a [driving while intoxicated case] and the club shouldn't be providing [the alcohol].

"It's something that for the foreseeable future, that's the way we expect the policy to be here. Maybe it will be revisited at some other point, but that's the way we feel about it now."

Duquette said that the team hadn't made a grand announcement to the players -- it just removed the beer from the clubhouse without prior warning. The executives will discuss the matter with specific players over the next few weeks, and Duquette said he anticipated that most players would understand the club's rationale.

"A lot of teams have decided to do that on the home side. On the visiting side, they're a little bit more lenient -- from my understanding -- just because the people over there aren't driving," he said. "That seems to be the main [issue]. I think, for the most part, players are pretty responsible about it, too. It's just like the general public. The majority of people that have drinks are responsible people when they drive, but there's always a select few that may go a little too far. That's something that we don't want from our players, from an organizational standpoint."

Veteran first baseman Kevin Millar said the players understood where the team was coming from -- even if they also felt that the decision was a bit unfair.

"It's a 50-50 thing. You can't argue it," he said on Saturday. "You lost a baseball player recently. But guys do like to sit around. You're talking about grown men, mid-30s men. If they want to sit around and have a beer after a game, it's usually OK to do that. But you see their side of it, the liability standpoint."

Almost ready: Scott Williamson pitched two strong innings for Class A Delmarva on Friday night and should be ready to return as soon he's eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. Williamson, who had experienced tightness in his right triceps tendon, said he feels fine and pain-free whenever he takes the ball.

His next rehab outing will come Monday for Double-A Bowie, and Williamson wants the ball as soon as possible.

"Actually, my arm's felt really good. I'm pretty excited about that," said the veteran, who's had elbow problems for several seasons. "They'll probably watch and see how I do Monday, and if they're pleased with it, I think I come off the DL Monday or Tuesday [he's actually eligible Thursday]. Hopefully, it's that time, but if they need me to do another outing to build up arm strength, then I'll do what they need me to do. Obviously, that will be best for the organization and the team."

"I talked to him [and he] said he pitched two [innings] last night and felt really good," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "[He] said his stuff is getting better and actually said, 'I'm supposed to go two next time and I might ask if I can go three.' So, I think that's good. If he can do something like that, it would be something we'd want out of our bullpen anyway, trying to get some guys to go multiple innings."

Bumps and bruises: Duquette said injured starter Jaret Wright has been examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum and will progress into rehabilitation to straighten out his sore right shoulder. Wright has had two prior surgeries on his shoulder, but the initial returns indicate that he won't need another one to correct the problem.

"There's no new structural issues or damage. [Yocum] prescribed further rehab, which at this point [Wright's] going to do in California," Duquette said. "It's really going to be based on how he feels, but we're expecting it to be a while. We'll start to really gauge it based on how he's feeling -- like we did the last time.

"But he felt worse after his last outing than he did prior, so we expect it to be a while."

Duquette also addressed Adam Loewen's treatment for a stress fracture in his left elbow, and while there's nothing especially new, Duquette said the Orioles have begun to discuss potential options.

"He has a couple more tests he's going to have to undergo, and either Monday or Tuesday -- we haven't finalized that yet -- he'll go ahead and have those done," he said. "At that point, we'll have a clearer understanding of how long, at least potentially, [he'll be out]. At this point, we don't anticipate that it's going to need to be repaired by surgery.

Quotable: "We just have to wait and see how they go and see where we are. There are other possible avenues. I'm sure we're searching for people who might be waiver claims or veteran guys that can maybe come into the long man role for us." -- Perlozzo, on how his staff will be affected by Brian Burres and Jeremy Guthrie moving out of the bullpen and into the rotation

Promotions: The first 20,000 female fans that arrive to Sunday's game will receive a white and pink Orioles hat courtesy of the team and sponsor Verizon Wireless.

Coming up: The Orioles and Indians will meet in a Sunday 1:35 p.m. ET matinee, and Baltimore will push Burres to the mound for his first Major League start. Cleveland will counter with staff ace C.C. Sabathia (4-0, 3.38 ERA).

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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