O's scratch Mora, put Hernandez at first

O's scratch Mora, put Hernandez at first

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles made a late lineup switch that affected two of their veteran players Tuesday, slotting Ramon Hernandez at first base and giving Melvin Mora an extra day to recover from his strained left hamstring. Hernandez had originally been listed at designated hitter but moved over for his first career start at first base when Mora was scratched.

Mora felt a tightening in his hamstring while running before the game, but he still took batting practice and could be back soon. The veteran said he wants to make sure he's fully capable of manning his position before he comes back.

"I think a couple of days and I'll be there. I just want to give it two more days," said Mora, who was recently named the American League's Player of the Month for August. "I don't want to go to third base and screw up everything. I can't do it. If I can do it, if I'm 80 percent, yeah, I'll be there. But I don't think I can make 70 [percent]."

Mora leads the American League with a .393 batting average and a .727 slugging percentage since the All-Star break, and he ranks second with 49 RBIs and sixth in home runs (12) and on-base percentage (.434). He hasn't played since August 29, but Mora swore he won't be overtly tempted by the thought of reaching 100 RBIs for the second time in his career.

"Who doesn't want to think about that?" asked Mora, who has 97 RBIs. "I think about that all the time. Even early in the season, I want to drive in 100. Even when I have one, I want to drive in 100. Everyone in the Majors, hitting, they want to get to 100 RBIs. ... I have a chance to get to 100-something RBIs and I want to go back there to try to do it."

As for Hernandez, he may be looking at a move that could enhance his future. The Orioles have one of the best catching prospects in baseball in former first-round pick Matt Wieters and may run into a conflict with Hernandez next season. This way, if they gauge how well he can play first base now, they'll have less to worry about over the winter.

"I definitely enjoy it," said Hernandez, who plays first base during Winter League. "It will be kind of like a day off. Instead of catching, I will be standing up and around first. I like something different. You have fun playing a new position."

Hernandez had played a grand total of six big league games and 11 innings at the position prior to Tuesday's start, but he said that his offseason work in Venezuela has prepared him well for the opportunity.

"I'll do whatever they need me to do," he said of handling a new position with just three weeks to go. "Sometimes, you have to remember different stuff. ... When you catch a ground ball, it has to be on the right hop. It will be interesting."

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