- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles gradually will work outfielder Luis Matos back into the lineup now that he has been deemed healthy enough to play.

But manager Lee Mazzilli isn’t going to take any chances with Matos, who is recovering from a superficial stress fracture to his right shin that sidelined him for 10 days.

Playing hurt, Mazzilli said, isn’t going to be tolerated or condoned.

“As a player I was very much like that,” Mazzilli said before the Orioles’ 10-2 loss to the Florida Marlins yesterday. “I didn’t want to say anything — you always play. But I’m on the other side right now, so you have to watch.”

Mazzilli secured permission from the Marlins and the National League to allow designated hitters to be used in yesterday’s game at Roger Dean Stadium.

“I’ll just DH [Matos] for a couple of games until he’s ready to go out in the outfield,” Mazzilli said.

Serving as the Orioles’ DH and leadoff hitter, Matos went 1-for-4, stroking a two-out, third-inning single to right field off Florida starter Carl Pavano.

“I just need to keep playing, I need to see pitches,” Matos said. “We’ve only got a little more than two weeks before Opening Day, and I need to get my timing down.”

Pavano allowed six hits and two runs in five innings. Orioles starter Rodrigo Lopez didn’t fare as well, giving up five hits and four runs in three innings.

Even when Matos returns to regular duty in the outfield, he will be playing with some discomfort. Although Matos can’t make the injury worse, he will have to learn to deal with the distraction.

Mazzilli played hurt as a player and understands the concept of hiding injuries from a manager, so he sat down and talked to Matos about communicating with him about his recovery.

Notes — Javy Lopez hit his first home run of the spring and drove in both Baltimore runs. … Infielder Mark McLemore returned to the lineup after missing five days with a sore neck. … Left-hander Adam Loewen failed to retire a batter for his second straight outing. Of the last seven hitters he has faced, Loewen has walked six and hit a batter.

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