Payton may begin season on DL
Gibbons would likely take outfielder's place in left
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles don't know the extent of Jay Payton's injury, but they conceded Tuesday that it's a "realistic possibility" he'll be on the disabled list for Opening Day. Payton injured his left hamstring Monday and spent Tuesday undergoing treatment.
"According to the trainers, it's a Grade I [strain]," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "He's probably more than day-to-day. We'll try to hold off on him. I don't want to guess, but it's still sore. To me, that sounds like it's more than a couple days."
Payton, who was expected to start in left field on Opening Day, injured himself Monday while trying to advance from second base to third in Baltimore's 4-2 win over Minnesota. He said he's had hamstring injuries in the past but isn't sure how this one compares to the others.
"I'm going to do whatever I have to do to get it right. I don't want it to be something that's going to linger," Payton said. "I've only been on the DL once in the last seven years. My preference is not to be on it. But if that's what has to happen, it's better to be a little cautious now. I've got a week here that I'm not really missing any games, and if I have to miss a few games in the early going to be right, then so be it."
Payton, who signed a two-year deal with Baltimore this past offseason, was initially regarded this spring as the solution to the team's vacancy in left field. The Orioles will likely fill his spot with Jay Gibbons, who had been primed to serve as the primary designated hitter.
"Gibby played right field for us, and I thought he played it pretty decently," Perlozzo said. "I think Gibby doesn't look as smooth as some outfielders, but I also thought he got the job done for us. He feels comfortable, I think, in left field. He ought to be able to handle the position for a period of time without any problems."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.