- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 6, 2002

BALTIMORE Jay Gibbons stood at his locker in the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse yesterday and began the layering process. First came the T-shirt, then the turtleneck, then his batting practice jersey, then his fleece pullover.

And Gibbons was still dreading what awaited him outside.

"I'm from California," he said. "I'm not used to this stuff."

For the third straight night, the Orioles played in frigid conditions at Camden Yards. Last night's game-time temperature was announced as 51 degrees, but it felt considerably colder, especially with a breeze circulating through the stadium.

"There's nothing you can do," third baseman Tony Batista said.

Gibbons does his best to keep moving in right field, jumping up and down, blowing on his hands, anything to try to stay warm. And it's still not usually enough.

"The problem I'm having is that the wind is so cold it makes your eyes water," he said. "We can deal with the cold weather, but when it starts messing with your eyes, it's hard to hit and catch a ball."

The Orioles will catch a break with afternoon games today and tomorrow. Last night they had no choice but to tough it out.

So, any tips for staying warm?

"Just pray that the pitcher gets us off the field so I can get on that warm bench," first baseman Jeff Conine said.

Fordyce gets start

Manager Mike Hargrove made his first lineup change of the season, giving Brook Fordyce his first start behind the plate.

Fordyce, last season's No.1 catcher, was beaten out by rookie Geronimo Gil this spring, a somewhat surprising move given Gil's lack of experience and Fordyce's $2.5million yearly salary.

Fordyce, though, isn't complaining. He understands that he must prove to the Orioles that he can rebound from a .209 season at the plate. And he's not worried about how his role is defined, starter, backup or part-timer.

"I'm one of 25 guys on the team trying to win that's how I look at it," Fordyce said. "If I go out and play the way I'm capable, you never know what's going to happen. Am I a backup? I think it's too early in the season, but if that's the situation they put me in, then that'll be [fine]."

Hargrove met with Fordyce before the season to inform him that Gil would get the Opening Day start, but also to ease the veteran's mind.

"I told Brook that the natural reaction would be to consider him a backup catcher," Hargrove said. "I don't look at him as a backup. He'll be catching less than Geronimo will, but I still see Brook catching two or three times a week."

Maduro ready to go

Without making it official, Hargrove all but said Calvin Maduro will be activated off the disabled list in time to start tomorrow's game against the Red Sox.

"I don't see any reason for him not to come off," Hargrove said.

Maduro has been shut down since the final week of spring training with a strained right forearm, but he threw well at the Orioles' minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday and emerged Thursday from a bullpen session at Camden Yards with no problems.

He's assuming he'll make the start against Boston ace Pedro Martinez.

"It's just a matter of them telling me," Maduro said. "I'm excited if I get to start on Sunday just to pitch in a major league ballgame again."

Extra bases

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Juan Dixon threw out ceremonial first pitches. Williams was in the stands at Camden Yards on Wednesday. Also in attendance were ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and Washington Freedom star Mia Hamm, who is dating Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.

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