- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 27, 2002

BOSTON Brian Roberts isn't going to spend too much time worrying about his role with the Baltimore Orioles.

Roberts can't afford to, because he might be back in Rochester before he realizes it.

The 24-year-old second baseman was called up from the minors yesterday for the third time this season. The Orioles promoted Roberts last time because the club wanted to give him a chance to play every day in the majors. This time the Orioles know his stay might last only a few days.

The Orioles had planned to activate Chris Richard in time for last night's game at Fenway Park. But Richard, who has been out since shoulder surgery last November injured himself during a routine fielding drill Wednesday night and had to have his return to Baltimore pushed back.

That allowed Roberts to don an Orioles uniform, even if it will only be for a couple of days.

"That's my assumption," said Roberts, who has a .234 batting average in 36 games. "I'm sure [Richard] will be healthy in four or five days. So I expect to go back."

Upon his last promotion from Class AAA Rochester on May 21, Roberts was told he would get the bulk of playing time at second base in place of struggling Jerry Hairston. That won't be the case this time around.

"I don't know that Brian will play a whole lot like last time," said manager Mike Hargrove, who touted Roberts as a likely pinch runner.

Roberts, who missed a call-up last week in Toronto because he didn't have his passport, is taking this latest move in stride.

"If you're in the lineup, you play," he said. "If you're not, you don't. So enjoy it while you're here."

Roberts was one of the first to find out that Richard hurt himself during warm-ups Wednesday night before Rochester's game at Toledo. Taking grounders at first base with Roberts standing at second base, Richard strained the gluteus muscle.

Richard, who hit .265 with 15 homers and 61 RBI last year, could still make it back within days. After sitting out Thursday, he was scheduled to play for Rochester last night.

If and when Richard is brought back, he'll be limited to designated hitting. He's still unable to play the field during a game.

Johnson out indefinitely

Hargrove confirmed yesterday what Jason Johnson said two days ago: He will not make his next scheduled start Tuesday at Tampa Bay and could be out longer.

Johnson (3-8) complained of soreness in his right shoulder in his last three starts, and an MRI taken in Baltimore revealed tendinitis. Team doctor Charles Silberstein told Johnson he would need to miss at least one start.

Hargrove declined to name who will start in Johnson's place at Tropicana Field. Possible replacements include minor leaguers Sean Douglass and John Stephens and current Orioles relievers Chris Brock and Rick Bauer.

Johnson began a throwing program yesterday, soft tossing from 90 feet. A decision on a trip to the DL does not need to be made for several days.

Extra bases

Injured first baseman Jeff Conine (strained right hamstring) is close to starting a running program. He's been on the DL since June 15. Injured shortstop Mike Bordick (fractured right kneecap) started an exercise program yesterday and continues to play catch despite his leg being immobilized.

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