A few pregame comments from Showalter (updated)

In my "1993 brawl" entry, I meant to point out that Cal Ripken's streak almost ended because of a knee injury sustained when he got caught in the bottom of a pile. Thanks to TomD for the reminder.

Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells worked on the knee the next day after Ripken said he wouldn't be able to play. The rest is baseball history.

The Sun didn't report the injury because it went unnoticed with all the fights that broke out that afternoon. Once I joined the beat fulltime in 1997, it became my responsibility to watch Ripken whenever the dugouts and bullpens emptied. Nothing else mattered. I was under orders to keep an eye on the Iron Man.

I almost blew it when both teams spilled into the visiting dugout at Yankee Stadium during the infamous brawl that Armando incited by drilling Tino Martinez between the numbers. I saw Ripken...and then I lost him. And yes, I panicked.

Anyway, back to Camden Yards...

Manager Buck Showalter was asked about his decision to start Robert Andino in left field.

"He's done lot of work out there, he's done a little bit," Showalter said. "Robert has played some center field, too, but he's been working with (Wayne) Kirby off and on since spring training. There's only one way to find out.

"I want to give Luke (Scott) a little blow there and keep Robert in the mix, just like we talked about yesterday."

Andino has made four career appearances in left field, including two starts. He started in left field in Game 2 of the April 9 doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, but he moved to shortstop when J.J. Hardy exited with an oblique injury.

Showalter hasn't forgotten about Felix Pie.

"I'm going to continue to create ways to get Felix out there a little more consistently," Showalter said. "His preparation has been great."

Reliever Jason Berken has allowed eight earned runs (nine total) and 17 hits, with six walks and four strikeouts, in his last seven appearances covering seven innings.

What's causing this slump?

"I think command of his fastball," Showalter said. "He's missed up a lot. He hasn't quite finished off some situations. He's gone through periods where he's had a crisp breaking ball. I think if he can get some clean innings behind him, he'd be on his way. He's been a pitch away. He got into a sure fastball count in a 4-1 game and hitters at this level aren't going to miss too many of those. There wasn't really any doubt there, but he threw a couple of really good hard sinkers in the right place. You can't do much with it, and some of his breaking balls are better than others, and that wasn't the case earlier in the year last year. He's capable of better."

Injury update: I mentioned earlier today that Troy Patton threw four scoreless innings in relief for Triple-A Norfolk. He replaced lefty starter Chris George, who exited after 2 2/3 innings with tightness in his right hamstring. George said afterward that he felt better, and he's listed as day-to-day.

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