- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 28, 2003

BALTIMORE — Now that he’s back in the Baltimore Orioles’ starting rotation, Pat Hentgen has one important task left to accomplish: get on a winning streak.

After spending most of his career as a starter, Hentgen began the season as a long reliever. He then replaced an injured Rodrigo Lopez in the rotation but was sent to the bullpen June15 when Lopez returned from the disabled list.

Hentgen was promoted to the rotation this week to replace ineffective Omar Daal and will make his first start since June10 today against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“It’s a privilege to be a starter in this league,” said Hentgen, the 1996 American League Cy Young Award winner. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The past few years have been difficult for Hentgen, who has earned only one victory since the middle of the 2001 season. He underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery in August 2001, went 0-4 over the final three weeks of the 2002 season and is 1-4 this year.

“Wins are always tough, but through my whole career they’ve always come in bunches,” the right-hander said. “You’ve just got to weather the storm. I’ve had seven starts, and 1-4 is not where you want to be.”

But being in the Orioles’ starting rotation is exactly where he wants to stay, and the best way to do that is to put together a string of wins.

“When you have major surgery, miss a year and a half, you have to prove yourself again,” he said. “That’s the road I’m on right now. I need to throw some quality games, get some wins and get on a roll.”

Error-prone Cruz sits

Orioles shortstop Deivi Cruz, who has been struggling in the field lately, was not in the starting lineup last night.

Cruz had committed each of the Orioles’ six errors over an eight-game stretch, including two in Baltimore’s 13-8 loss to Toronto on Thursday.

“Deivi has a tendency every now and then to lay back on ground balls and get it between hops,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “That’s something we’re working with him on.”

But Hargrove said the decision to use Melvin Mora at shortstop should not be interpreted as a knock on Cruz.

“I just gave him the day off. That’s all,” Hargrove said. “Deivi’s a good solid shortstop. He’s going through a little streak right now where he’s making some errors, but he’ll be OK.”

Cordova awaits word

Outfielder Marty Cordova has served the necessary time on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing surgery on his right elbow in April, but it might be a while before he returns to the 25-man roster.

“He’s still a ways away,” Hargrove said.

Cordova’s road back has been slowed by inflammation of the right elbow.

“I don’t know if you can really term it a setback; it’s one of those things we knew was a possibility,” Hargrove said. “We shut him down for a little while to let the inflammation go away.”

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