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O's notes: Hentgen starts
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03/29/2003  5:52 PM ET 
O's notes: Hentgen starts
Veteran right-hander uses Saturday as tuneup
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Pat Hentgen gave up three runs, including this Mike Piazza home run, on Sunday. (Ed Betz/AP)
NEW YORK -- The Orioles made a change on the fly Saturday. Literally.

En route to the game against the Mets at Shea Stadium, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove decided to start Pat Hentgen instead of Travis Driskill, as was originally intended. With Sidney Ponson's left ankle ailing, Hargrove wanted to start Hentgen just in case he is needed for a spot start this week.

An MRI exam performed Friday on Ponson's ankle revealed no damage, and he will pitch in a minor league game Sunday in Sarasota, Fla. Ponson will make his scheduled start Friday night in Baltimore against the Red Sox.

complete coverage: spring training 2003
Hentgen, who was in competition with Rick Helling for a spot in the rotation for a majority of the spring, will pitch out of the bullpen to start the season.

In three innings Saturday, Hentgen allowed three runs on five hits, walked one and struck out one. He gave up a two-run homer to Mike Piazza in the first inning and an RBI single to Mo Vaughn in the third.

"Pat was fine," Hargrove said. "He was a little too fine in the first."

Hentgen agreed that there were inexcusable mistakes in the first, punctuated by Piazza'a mammoth shot.

"You can't do that," Hentgen said. "You can't do that in the Major Leagues."

Despite his shaky first inning, Hentgen liked how he pitched the rest of the day. Hentgen finished his spring with a 2-3 record and a 6.65 ERA.

It has been a decade since Hentgen last made a relief appearance, but he said he will be prepared once his name is called.

"I'll just have to learn how to prepare a little quicker and a little earlier," Hentgen said.

Driskill, who was originally scheduled to start in place of Helling, was optioned to Triple-A Ottawa on Friday despite a strong spring. In eight relief appearances, he allowed two earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. He closed Saturday's 7-3 win over the Mets by pitching two scoreless innings.

Around the horn: Jose Morban, whom the Orioles claimed off waivers from the Twins on Friday, made his debut in the fourth, pinch-hitting for Hentgen. He grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. ... Melvin Mora and Gary Matthews Jr. each played for the Mets at one time in their respective careers. Mora made his Major League debut with the Mets in 1999, and Matthews Jr. broke camp last season with New York before being traded on April 3 for minor leaguer John Bale. Mora and Matthews Jr. each hit solo homers Saturday.

Physical fitness: Jorge Julio was hit in the right biceps -- "[It was] a glancing blow," Hargrove said -- by a Ty Wigginton line drive in the fourth. After a visit from Hargrove, Julio stayed in the game and pitched one scoreless inning.

Weather report: It was overcast Saturday with temperatures in the high 50s. A swirling wind sent several fielders scrambling on high popups, and rain sent several fans scrambling for their umbrellas in the eighth inning. The forecast calls for rain/snow Sunday with temperatures dropping to the mid-40s.

Coming up: The Orioles head back to Baltimore for a workout at 10 a.m. Sunday at Camden Yards. Hargrove will set the Opening Day lineup after the workout. The Orioles play host to the Indians on Monday in Baltimore. Rodrigo Lopez will start against Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia.

Patrick Mulrenin is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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