Take two: Mahoney hoping second return to Bowie brings health and hits

For first baseman Joe Mahoney, this has been a frustrating season with most of his time spent on the disabled list in a rehab mode. Now he looks forward to having some fun.

After two stints on the disabled list with a quad injury, Mahoney is expected to play for Double-A Bowie for the first time tonight since May 3. After several weeks of rehab in Sarasota, Mahoney came north over the weekend and played three games for Single-A Frederick, going 4-for-8 with two doubles, two RBIs and four walks.

"It feels great," he said about returning to game action. "It's been a long road and a lot has happened in the last few months. But it's good to be back playing where it counts."

After missing two weeks due to a quad injury in April, Mahoney returned only to go back on the DL again with the quad injury after just eight games. Did he return too soon the first time?

"I was ready when I came back, but it just happened again. You know, kind of bad luck," he said. "Now I need to do more stretching in my regimen to try and get in a good 80 or 90 games this year."

You have to wonder if Mahoney, the Orioles' 2010 minor league Player of the Year, doesn't feel a little snakebit with injuries. He went to play winter ball last October in Venezuela, but suffered a wrist injury and had to leave after one game.

"Just little things. Hopefully, I got them all out of the way at this point. It's baseball and things happen when you play at a high level. You just want to be out there and try to put up numbers. It definitely makes you appreciate the game and how fortunate we are to be out here playing and healthy," he said.

Mahoney is coming off a very solid 2010 season that saw him bat .307 between Frederick and Bowie with 30 doubles, 18 homers, 78 RBIs and an OPS of .864.

He'll try to resist the temptation to try and make up for lost time as he returns to the Baysox.

"I feel good at the plate with my swing and I feel comfortable where I am at," he said. "There are always little things you tinker with and certain rules I follow to keep my swing on track. We've got good hitting coaches up and down in the organization to help me with that."

Mahoney's big 2010 season led to him being added to the Orioles' 40-man roster and he followed that up with solid play in big league spring training in March. Now he wants to get back to showing the Orioles the player they saw on the farm last season.

"It's an honor (being on the 40-man). You know you are one injury away or one roster move away. It means a lot and hopefully at some point I can help them up there if they need me. That's the goal," Mahoney said.

Congratulations to the Frederick Keys, who beat Winston-Salem 5-4 on Monday night to clinch a Carolina League playoff berth. The Keys are now 40-24 and clinched the first half title in the Northern Division. It will be Frederick's second straight playoff berth and fifth in seven seasons when the postseason gets under way in September.

Since going 10-11 in April, Frederick is 30-13. The Keys are 16-3 over their last 19 games.

This is just the third time in the club's 23-year history that Frederick has won 40 or more in the first half. They also did it last year and in 1997.

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