Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Orioles Team Report; April 30, 2008

Garrett Olson took a major test Tuesday, and he passed with flying colors.

The promising left-handed prospect was called up from Class AAA Norfolk on Tuesday for the opportunity he’s been waiting for since failing his initial major league test last season.

He responded by shutting out the Rays for 6 2/3 innings before allowing two runs and being taken out. He was plagued by the same nemesis as last year: walks. He issued five of them.

“The reports were that it was time for him to see if he could do it at this level,” manager Dave Trembley said. “He’s got to command the fastball. Major league hitters, with all due respect, are a little more sophisticated. They know their strike zone, they don’t swing at bad pitches and they’ll work the count. So we need him to show that he can throw strikes.”

When Olson was called up in 2007, he was 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts. He never appeared to have the command necessary to succeed at the top level. In 32 1/3 innings he gave up 28 earned runs, walked 28 and struck out 28.

Olson was brought to the Orioles on Tuesday with reliever Bob McCrory, while reserve infielder Brandon Fahey was optioned to Norfolk and relief pitcher Greg Aquino was designated for assignment.

The moves were made necessary by the rainout that forced a doubleheader, the injury to Adam Loewen and the Monday game that went 11 innings before being suspended, using up so many relievers that the Orioles bullpen has pitched 24 2/3 innings in the last eight games.

Orioles 7, Rays 4: Rookie Garrett Olson shut out the Rays until the seventh inning, but the bullpen couldn’t stop the scoring rally that climaxed with B.J. Upton’s home run. Before that the Orioles got two RBIs from Melvin Mora and two from Aubrey Huff’s home run, and solos from Ramon Hernandez, Kevin Millar and Nick Markakis.

Notes, Quotes

• LHP Garrett Olson pitched shutout baseball through 6 2/3 innings to get his second career win in his first start after being called up from Class AAA Norfolk. He allowed two runs and walked five batters, but other than that he was impressive enough to earn a berth in the rotation.

• 3B Melvin Mora is hitting just .248, but he had his 13th and 14th RBIs on a single and sacrifice fly to boost his average with runners in scoring position to .381 (8-for-21).

• LHP George Sherrill earned his 10th save one day after suffering his first blown save of the season when he gave up a home run to the White Sox’s Jose Uribe in the 11th inning of a suspended game. He had successfully converted his first nine save opportunities.

• RF Nick Markakis went 1-for-5 against the Rays and he slipped to 7-for-36 in the 10 games since going 3-for-3 on April 18. His average has fallen from .345 to .287 and he’s had only one homer and three RBIs during that time.

• INF Brandon Fahey, batting .200 with one RBI and no runs scored in 15 games, was optioned to Class AAA Norfolk and RHP Greg Aquino was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for LHP Garrett Olson, who started on Tuesday, and RHP Bob McCrory, both of whom were called up from Norfolk. McCrory, 25, was 0-2 with four saves and a 1.90 ERA in Class AAA.

By The Numbers: 30—RHP Daniel Cabrera didn’t walk a batter in his April 23 start at Seattle. It was the first time in 30 starts that the still developing right-hander did not issue a base on balls.

Quote To Note: “Obviously, you’d have to use some common sense. I have to look down the road. I understand there is an interest from fans and everybody wants to know, but I can’t give answers to things that I don’t have answers for and I don’t like to speculate because I get myself in trouble when I change my mind. So I’d rather not change anything.”—Manager Dave Trembley, about what he’ll do with adjust his starting rotation.

Olson's Strong Debut Ends Rays' Streak

BALTIMORE -- Garrett Olson did more than deliver a pick-me-up victory and demonstrate that he's matured into the pitcher the Baltimore Orioles envisioned he could be Tuesday night. His 2008 debut was impressive enough to make manager Dave Trembley seriously consider the possibility that the left-hander might stay around for a while.

Olson took a shutout into the seventh inning and the Baltimore Orioles opened an abbreviated homestand by beating Tampa Bay, 7-4, on Tuesday and snapping the Rays' longest winning streak since 2005 at six games.

Summoned from Triple-A Norfolk to fill in for the injured Adam Loewen, Olson, 24, did more than put himself into the mix to replace Loewen in the rotation.

"I don't know about competition," Trembley said, "but I would think after the way he pitched tonight, we would have to see what we can do to get him back out there again."

With the Orioles needing to use Olson on Tuesday, and turning to Matt Albers for his second spot start of the season Wednesday, Olson couldn't have picked a better time for his coming-out party. He allowed two runs on four hits, walked five and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings. He left after surrendering a run-scoring double by Akinori Iwamura. Rookie Randor Bierd replaced Olson and yielded an RBI single to Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton's two-run homer.

"I just thought I was more in control with myself," Olson said. "Not getting flustered, I guess you could say in crucial situations, and just trusting myself and making that pitch when I needed to."

In Spring Training, when Olson had a chance to horn his way into the rotation picture, a lack of command belied his 1-0 record and 1.29 ERA in three Grapefruit League appearances. The rookie acknowledged being motivated by the meeting he had with Trembley when he was farmed out in March.

"When they call you in and say you're going down, it can definitely hurt a little bit," Olson said. "But you know it's part of the process. It's part of paying your dues and maturity. I went down and worked on some things."

The change was noticeable.

"His stuff was improved," Trembley said. "He made some big pitches when he had to. His mound presence, his poise, his ability to make big pitches -- it was good for him. Good for him and good for our team."

Olson retired the first seven hitters he faced before running into trouble in the third. With Baltimore nursing a 2-0 lead, the Rays sandwiched walks by Eric Hinske and Iwamura around Jason Bartlett's single to right to load the bases. In similar situations last year -- when he went 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts -- Olson might have crumbled.

"Just coming up, I might have been shell-shocked a couple of times," he said. "Now it's just thinking it through, just relaxing, and I think the stuff is always there, but I think I've improved my command a little bit."

Maybe more than a little bit. Crawford broke his bat on Olson's first offering, a slider, and bounced to third baseman Melvin Mora, who forced Hinske at home. Olson then muscled up and struck out Upton on an 0-2 fastball to blunt the rally.

"I think you saw a pitcher that let his pitches go tonight, a guy that was not nervous to be here, trying to do too much," said first baseman Kevin Millar, who watched the left-hander escape two-on, one-out jams in the fifth and sixth. "Tonight he let his pitches go. Everything's coming out crisp."

Millar was particularly struck by the manner in which Olson -- who spent much of his 2007 trial nibbling at hitters -- challenged Tampa Bay with his best stuff. That's just what Trembley wanted to see from Olson.

"I thought what he did was he pitched inside better and he worked faster," Trembley said. "Last year when I saw him, it seemed like his tempo was really slow and almost he pitched defensive instead of aggressive."

"I think part of that is, maybe, giving the hitter too much credit and being afraid of contact. You can't do that," Olson offered. "You got to make him put it in play. Strike one, then you see what they can do with the next pitch and the pitch after that."

Working with a lead only helped Olson's comfort zone. RBI singles by Mora and Nick Markakis made it 2-0 in the second, and Ramon Hernandez's run-scoring double increased the margin in the third. By the time the Orioles erupted for four runs in the sixth -- highlighted by Aubrey Huff's team-leading fifth home run against reliever Scott Dohmann -- Olson was cruising, and Trembley didn't hesitate to send him out for the seventh.

''Why not?" Trembley said.

Baltimore exploited the shortest start in the career of Rays right-hander Jason Hammel (2-2), who lasted 2 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and four walks.

After Beird served up Upton's two-run homer in the seventh, the Orioles turned to the righty-lefty tandem of Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker to get them through the eighth. Walker got a strikeout and a fielder's choice after Bradford yielded two singles, and George Sherrill worked the ninth for his 10th save in 11 opportunities.

Trembley applauded the performance, which opened an abbreviated homestand for a team in the midst of 17 of 20 games on the road. After a Friday night rainout in Chicago forced a Saturday doubleheader, Monday's rain-delayed game versus the White Sox was suspended after 11 innings with the teams knotted at 3, and a series of roster moves brought Olson up. Trembley wasn't sure how his team would respond.

"We came out with the opportunity to break it open early," Trembley said. "We kept making [Hammel] throw some pitches and I think we just really showed real good fortitude tonight. I mean, the trip coming back here and the conditions yesterday and everything that's gone on here about the last 72 hours -- I think have been taxing on everyone mentally. Not so much physically, but mentally. You know you make a couple player moves today you don't know how your team is going to react when you do those kind of things."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Orioles Team Report Apr 29, 2008

One of the high hopes the Orioles had coming into this season was to have their everyday catcher Ramon Hernandez revert to his performances of the 2006 season after struggling all of last year. While the season is still young, there has been no sign of Hernandez coming out of the doldrums, although he did hit an 11th-inning home run on Monday in cold and rainy Chicago.

Manager Dave Trembley’s decision to sit Hernandez on Monday was largely because of his .181 batting average and .215 on-base percentage. The manager also had to realize that Hernandez has been unable to get his average above the .200 mark in the last 20 games.

“I think sometimes he tries to do somewhat a little too much. I think he gets frustrated with himself because he has very high expectations all the time,” Trembley said. “I see him really trying too hard, swinging at a lot of bad pitches.”

Hernandez is a traditionally slow starter, but his bat is needed right now. And even though he knows he’s having trouble, he doesn’t seem to realize that the manager can’t keep using him because of that. Trembley noted that Hernandez actually asked to play on Sunday and the manager accommodated him. He said, “I don’t see him in a fielding slump, as far as throwing. I just think sometimes he tries to rush. I think sometimes he tries to be too quick when he doesn’t have to be.”

“I’m not hitting, and if you’re not hitting you’ve got to let the other guy play to give you opportunities to win,” Hernandez said. “He’s the manager. He makes the decisions, and he’s trying to make the best decision for the club.”

In addition to his hitting woes, Hernandez has struggled defensively, as his four errors are the most of any American League catcher and the 17 steals against him are tied for the most in the league.

ORIOLES 3, WHITE SOX 3 (Suspended after 11th inning): Ramon Hernandez and Jose Uribe traded 11th-inning solo home runs to forge the third tie in a game that was delayed 2:06 at the start and again before it was ruled suspended because of the cold, constant rain. Aubrey Huff and Carlos Quentin exchanged home runs in the second and sixth innings as Daniel Cabrera and Javier Vazquez engaged in a pitchers’ duel. Then Paul Konerko singled home Nick Swisher, one of seven Chicagoans walked by Cabrera, in the seventh before the Orioles sent the game to extra innings on a Brian Roberts double and Melvin Mora single in the top of the ninth. The game will be resumed at a later date.

Notes, Quotes

• RHP Daniel Cabrera remains hard to figure out. After one very good start followed by an outstanding outing, he gave up only two runs on Monday. Although he gave up only four hits, including a home run, he walked seven and hit a batter in 6 1/3 innings, while failing to get his first three consecutive win string in almost three years.

• 2B Brian Roberts extended his hitting streak to eight games with a leadoff double in the ninth inning on Monday then stole third base and came around to score the tying run on Melvin Mora’s single.

• LHP Adam Loewen, already on the DL because of discomfort near his elbow, had an MRI and CAT scan done on Monday in Baltimore to get more of an idea about his problem. The Orioles expected information when they arrive back in Baltimore late Monday.

• RHP Jeremy Guthrie (0-3) continued to pitch well on Sunday, but also continued to lose. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in five of his six starts this season, and dating back to 2007 has given up three or less runs in 11 of his last 15 starts but hasn’t won a game in those starts since July 27 of last year.

• C Ramon Hernandez, who hit an 11th-inning home run on Monday, was batting just .181 when manager Dave Trembley filled out his lineup card for that game, which was probably a big reason why he was given a day off before being pressed into action late in the extra-inning game.

By The Numbers: 30—RHP Daniel Cabrera didn’t walk a batter in his April 23 start at Seattle. It was the first time in 30 starts that the still developing right-hander did not issue a base on balls.

Quote To Note: “Obviously, you’d have to use some common sense. I have to look down the road. I understand there is an interest from fans and everybody wants to know, but I can’t give answers to things that I don’t have answers for and I don’t like to speculate because I get myself in trouble when I change my mind. So I’d rather not change anything.”—Manager Dave Trembley, about what he’ll do with adjust his starting rotation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Orioles and White Sox Will Play Again

CHICAGO -- The game is over. Or is it? The Orioles and White Sox played 11 innings in a driving rainstorm on Monday before the umpires had to step in and suspend the game due to unplayable field conditions. Baltimore tied the game in the ninth inning, and both teams traded runs in the 11th before the game was suspended with a 3-3 tie.

There is no proposed makeup date as of yet, but the teams eventually will play from the point at which the game was stopped. The Orioles return to Chicago, but not to play the White Sox. The game eventually may be replayed to its conclusion at U.S. Cellular Field or in Camden Yards, but there is no official word as to how it will happen.

"Unfortunately, we leave here without winning the game [and] without losing the game," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "We have to make it up later on, I guess. I'm amazed at the approach that we take. We don't give in. I know we made some mistakes today, [but] we battled through it [and] we came back. The guys believe in each other."

The start of the game was delayed by two hours, six minutes due to rain, and the umpiring crew eventually tried to get as much in before the weather made it impossible. Both starting pitchers complained about the conditions after the game, but the field held up well until the late innings, when the close nature of the game compelled both sides to try to finish it at all costs.

"This is the last time the Orioles and the White Sox meet here, so it was up to us to make every effort to get the game in, which I think we did by playing 11 innings," said umpire crew chief Rick Reed. "We feel that we gave them every chance to do that. Unfortunately, they kept tying the game up and nobody could win in regulation. And then the field just became unplayable."

Both teams had their chances to win, and the Orioles continued their strange mastery of All-Star closer Bobby Jenks. Jenks held a one-run lead when the ninth inning started, but he wound up with his third blown save in his last five games against Baltimore. Five of his 14 blown saves have been against the Orioles, and two of those have come this season.

Leadoff man Brian Roberts started the game-tying rally with a double in the ninth inning, and he stole third base easily to give the Orioles an easy chance to drive him in. Third baseman Melvin Mora singled him in for Baltimore (14-11), which has had 12 games, including four of its last six, decided in the seventh inning or later.

"I think when we come in those kinds of situations," said Trembley of the late heroics, "I think the guys just feel like they're going to win and they can do whatever they have to do to get it done. Even guys that are taking 0-for-4's or making mistakes or haven't contributed at all, they are all right behind each other. And I think there's something to be said for that."

The White Sox had an excellent chance to take control in the 10th, but they missed the bunt on an attempted squeeze play. Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez homered in the 11th to give the road team a lead, but infielder Juan Uribe homered to tie the game off Baltimore closer George Sherrill, who had successfully converted his first nine saves.

"I'm just glad we didn't lose," Sherrill said. "It's kind of tough to start a game in the 12th ... whenever it happens. We're just going to have to come out, strap it on. I guess if it's here, then it could be five minutes and you're gone. But I just hate that now it's up in the air. We could have been out of here with a win with a really good road trip, but oh well."

"A lot of ups and downs," added Roberts, who reached base twice on Monday. "A lot of thinking that you're going to win, and then thinking you're going to lose and then flipping around. It was an exciting game to be a part of. It was fun. When you get over the cold and rain and just look at the game itself, it was a fun game to be a part of."

Daniel Cabrera, who has pitched into the seventh inning and allowed two earned runs or fewer in four straight starts, endured a wild day on the mound. The right-hander walked seven batters, but he managed to strand two runners on base in three of the six innings he completed. Cabrera hadn't walked that many batters since May 2006.

Designated hitter Aubrey Huff gave the Orioles a one-run lead with a solo homer in the second inning, and Cabrera stranded runners at third base in the fourth and fifth. The White Sox didn't get on the board until left fielder Carlos Quentin homered in the sixth inning, and they didn't threaten to take the lead until Cabrera walked the leadoff man in the seventh.

"Every time you get the ball, it's like you have a rock in your hand," Cabrera said of the conditions. "The first thing that I was trying for was [to] get deep in the game. ... I walked a couple of people but still made the pitches, got the ground ball and got people out."

The White Sox bunted their leadoff man to second base in the seventh, and Trembley ordered an intentional walk on Jim Thome. Trembley went to the bullpen after that, but right-handed reliever Chad Bradford allowed a run-scoring single to Paul Konerko. Trembley burned two more relievers to get out of the jam, setting up the late-inning drama.

Chicago starter Javier Vazquez matched Cabrera all the way, pitching through the eighth inning. Baltimore managed just four hits off Vazquez and never reached scoring position against him after the second inning. Center fielder Adam Jones made it to third base in the 10th, but the White Sox threw behind him and managed to tag him out.

Huff was called out on a bang-bang play at first base in the 10th, and he was ejected for arguing the call. The replay appeared to confirm Huff beat a throw from second base, and he wasn't apologetic after the game.

"Let's just put it this way: I've never been more angry in my life in baseball," he said.

"It's a typical get-away game, I guess," said Trembley. "Those things happen on get-away day. But there's something to be learned from all of it. Like I told our guys, I thought they played their butts off. They don't give up."

O's Game Suspended at 3-3 Tie

CHICAGO -- That's not a swamp. It's an infield.

The Orioles and White Sox were delayed by more than two hours and still played 11 innings in a driving rainstorm on Monday, only to see the game get suspended with the scored tied at 3 due to an unplayable field. Baltimore tied the game in the ninth inning, and both teams traded runs in the 11th before the umpires decided it was too perilous to keep playing.

The infield sported some large mud puddles at that point, and some players in both clubhouses wondered why the game even started. According to crew chief and third-base umpire Rick Reed, there was no alternative.

"This is the last time the Orioles and the White Sox meet here, so it was up to us to make every effort to get the game in, which I think we did by playing 11 innings," Reed said. "We feel that we gave them every chance to do that. Unfortunately, they kept tying the game up and nobody could win in regulation. And then the field just became unplayable."

The tarp remained on the field for two hours before the game began, and the umpires heard a weather report that there might be a brief window to get the game in. They started it under that assumption, but the rain never really relented. Both pitchers had to struggle through the conditions, and several players said they'd never seen anything like it before.

"I've never been in a game like that -- playing 11 innings under the rain and all of a sudden we stop," said Chicago starter Javier Vazquez, who fired eight strong innings despite the weather. "But the field was in terrible condition."

"I don't think the game should've been started," said Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez. "It was really cold and rainy. The field was wet. You can hurt the pitcher. A guy can pull a hamstring because you never get warmed up. After [11] innings, why are you stopping the game now? You should finish like that. It [doesn't] matter. We shouldn't have started."

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts dissented from that view, saying the field was fine in the early innings and the close nature of the game dictated the situation at the end.

"It's just frustrating to play that long and have it end like that," said Roberts, who scored the game-tying run in the ninth. "But you also don't want to lose a game because a guy can't throw the ball across the infield."

Reed said the grounds crew put more than 2 1/2 tons of drying agent on the field during the course of the game and that they did everything possible to ensure the safety of the players.

Near the end of the game, though, he got a few up-close examples of how the field was beginning to be unplayable.

"The water was all rising to the top after you took the quick-dry stuff off," he said. "For instance, on Roberts' steal of third base in the ninth inning, he just went splash. He wasn't going to get all that stuff out of him until he showered, I'm sure."

There is no proposed makeup date at the moment, and Reed said this game was unique in his recent memory.

"It's the first time we've had to invoke a suspended-game rule, and these two teams will pick up from this point on," the veteran umpire said. "We have to phone that in, and we're not like the teams where we have a lot of travel [options]. We're in New York [on Tuesday], and our flight was leaving at 7:15. We obviously missed that flight, so we'll see what we can come up with later on."

Loewen: MRI Exam on Elbow

CHICAGO -- The Orioles still don't know the extent of southpaw starter Adam Loewen's elbow injury, but they should know by Monday night. Loewen, a former first-round Draft pick, is set to undergo an MRI on Monday afternoon to gauge how badly he's hurt and how long he might need to stay on the disabled list.

"Loewen's getting an MRI and a CAT scan this morning and will see [team physician] Dr. [John] Wilckens this afternoon," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley on Monday. "I won't have anything until I get back to Baltimore tomorrow. I think [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] will get the reports this afternoon."

Loewen, who made six starts last season before being shut down with a stress fracture in his left elbow, has said he doesn't think there's anything drastically wrong with his arm. The left-hander reported forearm pain in his pitching arm during his last start, and the Orioles elected to push him to the disabled list as a precautionary measure.

"There's been a couple things that were bothering me before and started to go away," he said last Thursday. "When that starts to happen, something else comes up. I might be overcompensating for something. That's why I'm getting all these different types of pains. I really don't think it's anything serious, but it would be nice to step on the mound and feel 100 percent."

The Orioles have been patient with Loewen's recovery, and they don't want to do anything to aggravate the injury. His rotation turn comes up Tuesday for the first time since the injury, and Baltimore is expected to promote Garrett Olson from Triple-A Norfolk. Trembley wouldn't quite confirm that on Monday, but he said as much as he could without being uncomfortable.

"Obviously, we'll have a spot-starter tomorrow," Trembley said. "We need to make a move on the club so I can't release that, but you guys have all done your homework. As a courtesy to all of you who have figured it out, if we play today -- which I'm fully expecting we will -- [Jim] Johnson will start on Wednesday."

Johnson, who has thrown 11 scoreless innings in relief, is looking forward to his first career start. Trembley's plans could change if Monday's game is rained out, because Daniel Cabrera then would start on Tuesday and Olson likely would pitch on Wednesday. But for now, Trembley's counting on Johnson to be his chief contingency plan.

"They really haven't told me anything yet, so it's really just play it by ear," said Johnson. "But as of right now, I'm in the bullpen now, and it's fine. But whatever he thinks I can do to help us out, I'll do it ... if I get that chance. Nothing's set in stone yet, and things can change pretty quickly from day to day. You really can't look too far into the future."

Orioles Team Report Apr 28, 2008

For the second time in this still young season, a rainout on Friday and an ensuing doubleheader on Saturday threw manager Dave Trembley into a quandary trying to make decisions about adjusting his starting rotation.

The manager doesn’t want to have either Brian Burres, who was outstanding in the first game on Saturday, or Steve Trachsel, who was far less impressive in the second game, pitch on short rest, which dictates the call-up of at least one minor leaguer.

Trembley must decide whether to use one of his long relievers, most likely right-hander Jim Johnson, who has been a starter throughout his career, or call up one of the pitchers from Class AAA Norfolk, most likely left-hander Garrett Olson, who was ordered by the Orioles to have a much abbreviated start on Saturday.

“I’m probably closer to Wednesday,” Trembley said. “I’m not closer to Tuesday, but if I had to name a starter now, it would be somebody in the bullpen… If we don’t make another move, I would say that he might be a frontrunner for the Wednesday spot-start.

The thinking is that it will be Olson, who had a rough two-inning stint on Saturday when he allowed four walks and three hits on 41 pitches in two innings, but who prior to that had a 1.61 ERA in four starts.

“Everybody knows what we did with Olson. We only let him pitch a couple of innings. I think he’s probably smart enough that somebody told him why he had an abbreviated start,” Trembley said with just a hint of sarcasm.

White Sox 6, Orioles 1: Jeremy Guthrie gave up two solo home runs to Paul Konerko that left the Orioles trailing 2-1 one batter into the sixth inning. Another hit brought in Matt Albers, who was burned by a series of misplays that allowed two runs to score. Greg Aquino gave up two more

Notes, Quotes

• RHP Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t get an out in the sixth inning Sunday and his record fell to 0-3. Two of the five hits he allowed were home runs by Paul Konerko, but blame for the loss should fall to the defense, as well as the Orioles’ dormant bats.

• 1B Kevin Millar, batting .228 overall and .179 with runners in scoring position, was given his first off day of the season Sunday. The veteran felt it was a good time for a break both physically and mentally. Now, only Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts have played in every game.

• LHP Brian Burres pitched eight innings in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday and allowed three hits and no runs. It was the longest outing of his career and netted his third win, half of his previous major league total.

• LF Jay Payton returned to the lineup Sunday after having gotten his average up to .308 from the .174 of April 15. Payton started pushing his average up with three consecutive pinch hits and has hit consistently since, but he was 0-for-4 on Sunday.

• RHP Randor Bierd, the Rule 5 draft pickup from the Tigers, gave up the first run of his career on Saturday which led to the first loss of his brief time in the major leagues. He has pitched 13 innings in eight appearances.

By The Numbers: 30—RHP Daniel Cabrera didn’t walk a batter in his April 23 start at Seattle. It was the first time in 30 starts that the still developing right-hander did not issue a base on balls.

Quote To Note: “Obviously, you’d have to use some common sense. I have to look down the road. I understand there is an interest from fans and everybody wants to know, but I can’t give answers to things that I don’t have answers for and I don’t like to speculate because I get myself in trouble when I change my mind. So I’d rather not change anything.”—Manager Dave Trembley, about what he’ll do with adjust his starting rotation.

Orioles Unable to Get Guthrie First Win

CHICAGO -- The last time Jeremy Guthrie won a baseball game, his manager only had been on the job for five weeks. Eight months later, his slide continues.

Baltimore's starter allowed two home runs in a 6-1 loss to the White Sox on Sunday and hasn't won since July 27 of last season, a stretch of 15 starts that has seen him pitch competitively.

Guthrie has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 15 starts, and he's taken 10 no-decisions over that span. While bad luck may have been involved in his closing kick last season, run support has been the culprit this year. Heading into Sunday's start, Guthrie's run-support figure (2.89 runs per game) was the fifth-lowest in the American League.

"I'm just pitching well enough to lose. Hopefully, I can get a little bit better and one or two runs will help me pitch well enough to win a game," Guthrie said. "It's not the losses. As long as I'm pitching well, keeping us in there and giving myself a pretty good chance to win, you can be pleased and you can build off it. I don't think it's an extra goal.

"You're not going to go home with a smile after the game, but at the same time, you have to realize that if you continue to do that, it can swing in a heartbeat and all of a sudden you can reel off some wins."

Guthrie has been especially prone to home runs during his winless streak, allowing 18 in his last 15 starts. He's allowed two home runs in a game seven times over that stretch -- including twice this season -- and he is 0-3 in those circumstances. Paul Konerko hit both of the home runs Sunday, going deep in the second and sixth innings.

Chicago's cleanup hitter gave the White Sox (14-10) the first lead of the game with his first home run, and he put the home team ahead for good with his second. Both homers went to left field, Konerko's pull side. Guthrie (0-3) stranded a runner in scoring position in the third inning, and he left the bases loaded in the fourth.

"He knows how to compete. He does the best he can every time out there," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, who has seen just four Guthrie wins during his tenure. "I just think today he didn't have his best location. His pitch count got up real early in the game. ... Guthrie goes right at you and goes at you with his fastball, trying to pitch in somewhat.

"I don't see any kind of frustration. ... He's going to keep running himself out there, and we have a lot of confidence in him."

White Sox starter Jose Contreras dominated the Orioles for the second time this season, working into the seventh inning and allowing just one earned run. Baltimore pushed a runner to third base in the first inning but wasn't able to score, and second baseman Brian Roberts provided the road team's only run with a solo homer in the third.

"He just gets us to expand the strike zone," Trembley said of Contreras. "He kind of teaches us with his fastball. When we hit it on the barrel, it's usually right at somebody. And then [when] he throws that split -- which is usually out of the strike zone -- we get a little overanxious and chase it. But he comes at you with all different kinds of arm angles.

"I just wish maybe we'd hit a couple of bleeders on the end and drop in there -- then maybe we get a big one."

Guthrie allowed a single right after Konerko's second home run, and Baltimore immediately went to the bullpen. Matt Albers allowed a hit, and then a sacrifice bunt pushed both runners into scoring position. Chicago's Brian Anderson, who came through with the game-winning hit in the second half of Saturday's doubleheader, came through with a bizarre single.

Orioles shortstop Brandon Fahey fielded Anderson's ball cleanly, but he threw wildly to the third-base side of home plate. That allowed an additional run to score, and Ramon Hernandez also was charged with a throwing error on the play, allowing Anderson to advance to second. Albers got out of the inning after that, making it a three-run game.

Greg Aquino, who hadn't pitched since April 15, got some work in the seventh inning. The right-hander walked three batters and hit another to force in a run. One more scored on a fielder's choice after he left. The bottom line, though, is the Orioles were unable to score enough to keep their Opening Day starter in the game.

"He's faced some pretty tough pitching," said Aubrey Huff, who started at first base and went 1-for-3. "It seems like everybody else we're getting runs for, but not him. It's just something you can't explain."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Orioles Team Report Apr 26, 2008

It might seem that the Orioles could not afford to have any of their starting pitchers go down, but now that Adam Loewen has been put on the 15-day disabled list because of soreness in his left forearm, it just might prove to be a positive in the long run.

Loewen has been largely ineffective in his four starts this season. He is 0-1 with a 7.85 ERA and he has issued a team-high 15 walks in 18 1/3 innings. Loewen’s disappointing start could have been caused by the pain he admitted has been ongoing since the start of the season.

Noting that the soreness is something that needs to be taken care of, the 24-year old Loewen, who was taken from the game on Thursday, said, “It’s starting to get worse in the general area of my forearm. It just starts off as a dull pain and gets sharper as I go on. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious and I don’t think it is.

“There are two guys in the bullpen that are deserving to get the ball every fifth day. They deserve a shot, so it’s not like a huge blow right now. We’ve got guys who can step in,” Loewen added in reference to Matt Albers and Jim Johnson, both currently in the bullpen after working as starters through most of their careers.

Manager Dave Trembley isn’t likely to take a long time to make the changes in the rotation and he has to feel fortunate to have some options with Albers, Johnson, and Garrett Olson and Radhames Liz, who have pitched very well at Class AAA Norfolk.

Trembley said he felt that something was wrong with Loewen, but the youngster, who was a first-round draft pick in 2002, never reported the soreness.

“I had him in Instructional League and I had him in the minor leagues, and I’ve watched him. To me, it just looked like there’s something that’s not right with him. Finally, when I took him out (on Thursday), he said he was sore. We’re going to get it checked out,” Trembley said.

ORIOLES AT WHITE SOX, postponed: Friday’s scheduled game was postponed due to rain. It will be made up Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader.

Notes, Quotes

• LHP Brian Burres pitched only to leadoff batter Nick Swisher before the rain came in Chicago, forcing the second doubleheader of the year for the Orioles. They lost both ends of a twin bill to Texas after the last rainout.

• LF Jay Payton, who had a home run, stolen base and two runs scored on Thursday in Seattle, was back in the starting lineup on Friday in Chicago. He has raised his average to .306.

• INF Eider Torres was recalled on Friday from Class AAA Norfolk to extend the bench and cut the number of pitchers back to 12. Torres was hitting .338 at Norfolk, which means his presence will put some pressure on the light-hitting Brandon Fahey and Luis Hernandez.

• LHP Adam Loewen was put on the 15-day DL on Friday. He admitted, after being taken from the game on Thursday, that he has had soreness in his left forearm and has compensated by changing his delivery. The youngster was injured after only six starts in 2007.

• LHP George Sherrill got his eighth save of the season on Thursday in Seattle and five of them came in the seven games the Orioles have played against the Mariners, the team Sherrill played for the previous four seasons.

By The Numbers: 3—Pinch-hit singles in three consecutive games put Jay Payton in the spotlight in Baltimore. Payton ran his hitting streak to four games when he broke up Andy Pettitte’s no-hitter with a fifth-inning, broken bat, infield single on Sunday

Quote To Note: “I’m kind of surprised that we’ve surprised some people, to be honest with you. The wins make it easier to sell that, not to the players, but to the people that are watching, the people that love and care about the Orioles.”—Manager Dave Trembley reflecting on the Orioles’ early-season success.

O's Settle for Doubleheader Split

CHICAGO -- The Orioles fell just shy of a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, when they wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the ninth inning of the finale and watched their opponent convert on a similar chance. Rookie reliever Randor Bierd walked two batters and allowed a run-scoring single in the bottom half that gave the White Sox a 6-5 win.

Prior to Bierd's misstep, the Orioles had scored three unanswered runs and gotten four scoreless innings from their bullpen. Baltimore won the opener by a 5-1 score and saw its record in one-run games fall to 7-2 in the nightcap.

"I thought our bullpen was outstanding," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "We kept the game close [and] we got big outs. We got some clutch hits and came back in a game that probably had all the earmarks of getting away from us real early -- and it didn't."

Baltimore had a chance to break things open in the top of the ninth against Chicago closer Bobby Jenks (2-0), but the effort fell short. The Orioles (14-10) loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, but cleanup hitter Kevin Millar bounced into a 5-2 force play and designated hitter Aubrey Huff grounded out to the mound.

Millar, who had homered earlier in the game, took responsibility for not pushing home the go-ahead run.

"I had a chance to put us up there, and we battled to get the bases loaded," he said. "It's just disappointing to not get that run in. I take full credit for that. That's a bad at-bat in that situation. You have to find a way to get that run in.

"He made a good pitch, down and away, but in that situation you've got to remember that the pressure's on him. I let him off the hook by going up there and swinging at an 0-0 pitch that wasn't my pitch. I couldn't do much with that pitch."

Trembley made an unorthodox decision in the ninth, when he brought veteran southpaw Jamie Walker in to face Jim Thome and then lifted him in favor of Bierd, who had never pitched the final inning of a big league game. Bierd (0-1) walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a single. One out later, he pitched around Joe Crede to get to Brian Anderson.

Anderson, who hadn't driven in a run since last September, punched a single through the left side of the infield to win the game. Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez said he wanted Bierd to be careful with Crede, who went 0-for-7 on Saturday. The White Sox (13-10) and Orioles have split four games this season and have two remaining in this series.

"You've got a guy behind him hitting .150, so you let the guy take his chances," Hernandez said. "To me, I'd be looking stupid if I let [Crede] beat me. You've got two guys on and you've got a guy hitting .150 behind him. Nothing against the other guy, but if you've got a guy that's very hot and a guy on deck that's struggling, most of the time you've got to play for that."

"He let the guy off the hook," added Trembley, speaking of Bierd's confrontation with Anderson. "He had the last guy 0-2, but it was a good learning experience for him. I'm not going to say anything about what I did see or what I didn't see. It's for other people to second-guess or whatever, but the kid's done a great job. If he gets the guy out, nobody says anything."

The Orioles trailed early and began their comeback in the sixth inning on Millar's fourth home run of the year. That shot brought Baltimore within two runs, and rookie infielder Eider Torres started the next rally with a one-out single in the seventh. Brian Roberts followed with a triple to deep center field, and Melvin Mora drove him in with a game-tying double.

"We're not going to give at-bats away," Trembley said of his team's resilience. "We're going to play hard and do what we can do to get ourselves back in the game. We got some big two-out hits. Both teams squandered opportunities with runners in scoring position. That was a big one for us in the ninth inning, and we didn't get done. That's just baseball."

Baltimore starter Steve Trachsel was knocked out early for the second time in three starts, lasting just three-plus innings. The right-hander allowed five hits and five runs, with four of them earned. Chicago right fielder Nick Swisher took Trachsel deep for a two-run home run in the top of the fourth, and Baltimore elected to go directly to the bullpen.

Rookie reliever Jim Johnson continued his strong work by recording seven outs and getting the game into the middle innings. Johnson has worked 11 innings this season and has yet to allow a run. Dennis Sarfate took the ball from Johnson in the sixth and stranded two inherited runners with a 1-2-3 double play, setting the stage for Baltimore's tying rally.

"What Johnson did was turn the momentum and the tempo of the game around," said Trembley. "I think he got our hitters back in the game. Trax didn't throw too many first-pitch strikes. He pitched behind, a lot of three-ball counts and walks. I really didn't think at that point in time we had any momentum going for us, and Johnson came in and got the momentum back on our side."

Friday, April 25, 2008

O's Storm Back to Win, but Lose Loewen

SEATTLE -- The Orioles won a thrilling game and may have lost a key arm Thursday night, when Adam Loewen worked the second shortest start of his career and admitted a case of left forearm pain later in the evening. Baltimore overcame Loewen's brief outing to earn an 8-7 win, but now it must contemplate its rotation without the former first-round pick.

"I've been watching him, and I've seen him as much as anybody here," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "I had him in Instructional League and I had him in the Minor Leagues, and I've watched him. To me, it just looks like there's something that's not right with him. Finally, when I took him out, he said he was sore. ... We're going to get it checked out [Friday]."

The injury takes on added significance when considering the southpaw's recent history. Loewen missed virtually all of last season with a stress fracture in his left elbow and spent the winter rehabbing and working back to full strength. The Orioles pushed his latest start back two days, but initially said that it had nothing to do with an injury.

Loewen came clean after the game, meeting the media in a clearly disheartened state. The 24-year-old said that the injury has affected him nearly every time he takes the ball, but it hasn't kept him from reaching his peak velocity. Loewen has had to alter his delivery to find a pain-free release point, a process that has eroded the command of his fastball.

"There's been a couple things that were bothering me before and started to go away," he said. "When that starts to happen, something else comes up. I might be overcompensating for something. That's why I'm getting all these different types of pains. I really don't think it's anything serious but it would be nice to step on the mound and feel 100 percent."

Trembley had said several times in recent days that he was keeping a 13-man pitching staff with the express purpose of covering for Loewen, who had struggled to make it deep in the game in each of his three previous starts.

Seattle (11-12) got on the board with a home run by Adrian Beltre in the second inning, and Loewen loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the third. The Mariners lengthened their lead with a pair of sacrifice flies, and Jose Vidro made it 5-0 with a monster double to left-center. Loewen came out at that point, marking his shortest start since August 2006.

After the game, he spoke of his injury and how it may affect the Orioles going forward.

"It's starting to get worse in the general area of my forearm. It just starts off as a dull pain and gets sharper as I go on," he said. "Hopefully it's nothing serious, and I don't think it is. There's two guys in the bullpen that are deserving to get the ball every fifth day. They deserve a shot, so it's not like a huge blow right now. We've got guys who can step in.

"It's something I have to take care of and hopefully come back and be healthy so nothing's bothering me."

Once Loewen exited the game, the Orioles calmly went about eroding the home team's five-run advantage. Baltimore scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to chip away and finally took a lead in the seventh. Seattle tied things in the bottom half, and second baseman Brian Roberts put the O's ahead again with a solo homer in the eighth.

"This team amazes me. It really does," Roberts said after the game. "I know it's early, but we're down, 5-0, and it wasn't like we knew we were going to win or anything. There was just no panic and we just kind of chipped away one at a time. I think we realize that everything stays calm and you can't get five at a time.

"You get one here and there and the next thing you know, it's a two- or three-run game."

That mantra served Baltimore well Thursday night, especially after wasting a few early opportunities. The Orioles (13-11) ran themselves out of a rally in the first inning on a strikeout and a caught-stealing double play. They also popped up twice with runners in scoring position in the third and hit into a double play and a nubber to the mound in the fifth.

Their luck turned in the seventh, when they loaded the bases on two hits and a walk. Trailing by two runs, Baltimore got a sacrifice fly from Kevin Millar and a game-tying single from designated hitter Aubrey Huff. Two batters later, former Mariner Adam Jones drilled a two-run double high off the left-field wall to give the road team its first lead.

That advantage only lasted two batters, though, as Ichiro Suzuki homered off southpaw specialist Jamie Walker in the bottom of the seventh. Three outs later, Roberts put Baltimore back in the driver's seat with a solo homer to right field. The Orioles wound up using five of their eight relievers, and George Sherrill locked down the ninth for his eighth save.

"We play hard. I've seen it since Day 1," said Trembley. "We felt that we were going to win tonight. We just needed to get the tying run up to the plate. We felt it all night, even [though] we stranded some runners early in the game and didn't take advantage of some scoring opportunities. But the guys kept battling and the bats came alive."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Guthrie Finally Falters in Eighth Inning

SEATTLE -- Jeremy Guthrie may be getting better each time out, but he doesn't have much to show for it. Baltimore's Opening Day starter went deep into the game for the third straight time Tuesday night and still went home winless. Guthrie held a tie game into the eighth inning but fell short of stopping a late Seattle rally in Baltimore's 4-2 loss.

"I don't think he gets mad, but I get mad for him," said Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez. "He's throwing seven-plus innings and never gets a win. But you know what? If he keeps pitching games like that -- quality starts -- he's going to win a lot of games. All you've got to do is throw a lot of innings and keep the game close, and I think he'll be all right."

Guthrie has followed that exact recipe in recent weeks, but he's yet to come out with a win. The right-hander pitched into the seventh inning and took no-decisions in each of his previous three starts -- two of which ended up as one-run victories for the Orioles. His latest start had the same feel to it but ended on a dissonant note in the eighth inning.

Seattle shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt hit a leadoff double, but Guthrie settled down to get outs on a popup and a line drive. The Orioles elected to intentionally walk Raul Ibanez at that point, bringing up Adrian Beltre, who was 0-for-12 in his career against Guthrie. Beltre worked a walk, and Jose Vidro broke things open with a two-run single.

"Unfortunately, we wanted to bust him in, and I couldn't really get that pitch in for a strike," Guthrie said of Beltre. "The first two were close, and the last two that I ended up throwing inside were called strikes. That was the idea. Obviously, we thought we had a better chance going after him, and I just couldn't execute the fastball for a strike and make him swing."

Even after the Beltre at-bat, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley elected to stick with his starter. The Orioles (11-9) had southpaw specialist Jamie Walker warmed up and ready to go but chose instead to stay with Guthrie against Vidro, a switch-hitter who has hit .305 against left-handers and .299 against right-handers for his career.

"If you go by history, you probably want to turn him around," Trembley said of Vidro. "So far this year, he's hitting 200 points less left-handed than he is right-handed. And as well as Guthrie pitched right there, I don't want to bring someone in and have them walk the guy or give up his runs. I felt Guthrie had pitched well enough to win it or lose it on his own."

"It shows a lot of confidence," added Guthrie. "Once I walked Adrian, at that point I kind of felt like, 'Hopefully he'll give me a chance to put us in position to win or to lose.' I created the mess myself. It just didn't work out."

Guthrie's balancing act started early, thanks to a leadoff triple by Ichiro Suzuki in the first inning. Seattle (11-10) wound up tying the game on a ground ball, and Guthrie (0-2) didn't allow another hit until the fifth inning. The former first-round Draft pick made a spectacular play on a ground ball in that inning, charging to third base for a rare unassisted forceout.

The game turned right after that on a throwing error by Hernandez. The backstop tried to throw behind Ichiro at first base and tossed the ball into right field, allowing Betancourt to score easily from second. Baltimore would tie the game in the sixth on a solo home run by Aubrey Huff, and Guthrie retired the next six batters he faced.

"He gave it the best he had. He threw a great ballgame," Hernandez said. "That changeup is turning into the second-best pitch he's got now, and he's using all of his pitches. He's not afraid to use all of his pitches. He really has a good idea. He's getting better and better every time he pitches."

Baltimore's offense wasted several opportunities to break the game open, with the first one coming in the first inning. Brian Roberts singled and scored on a hit by Kevin Millar, but the Orioles wound up leaving two runners in scoring position. Baltimore left the bases loaded in the second and ran into a line-drive double play in the eighth.

Seattle starter Felix Hernandez kept the Orioles off base and off-balance, surviving an early blip of control to work through the seventh inning. Hernandez struck out seven batters and only allowed one baserunner to reach scoring position after the second inning. Arthur Rhodes pitched the eighth inning for the win, and J.J. Putz worked the ninth for his second save of the year.

"Early, he was throwing as hard as he could," Trembley said of Hernandez. "We got his pitch count up. I don't think he was as sharp as he's been. He's coming off a couple great outings back to back. ... He got them deep in the game, but he wasn't as good as he's been. That kind of gets you spoiled a little bit [and] just ought to tell you how good he really is."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ray Is Keeping Busy Fixing Up Mustang, Arm

BALTIMORE, April 21 -- Baltimore Orioles closer Chris Ray needed a diversion from the tedious nature of his rehab from ligament replacement surgery. So after ruling out golf for fear that he could cause further injury to his elbow, Ray found an alternative on the Internet. He bought a 1992 Mustang GT for $3,000 on eBay and has used his down time at the team's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., to restore the car.

"I thought it would be fun," said Ray, who is working with a cousin on the project. "It would keep me occupied and stuff, looking at different parts. So it's either this or video games."

After finishing his rehab work for the day, Ray often scours the Internet for parts and searches Web sites for articles written by other restoration enthusiasts, looking for fresh ideas on how to restore the car.

He has already bought a new engine and transmission for the Mustang, which sits in his driveway in Sarasota. Ray's cousin, who has a background in restoration, will do the physical work of replacing the parts.

As for Ray's other restoration project, which involves his surgically repaired right arm, the process has moved smoothly. The 26-year-old pitcher, who has 49 career saves over the last two seasons for Baltimore, expects to begin throwing from flat ground in early May.

Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Ray looked good during a long-toss session earlier this month, when the pitcher joined the team for a series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

"You wouldn't have known," Kranitz said. "That's how good I think he's come along with his rehab. He's in good spirits and things are looking up for him which is really nice to see."

Sherrill, Jones Return to Seattle

Former Mariners Adam Jones and George Sherrill will return to Seattle on Tuesday for the first time since being traded for Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard. While Jones spent two short stints with the Mariners, the closer Sherrill worked out of Seattle's bullpen for most of four seasons.

"They may not remember who I am," Sherrill said. "But I think it will be a pretty decent reception. I'm not expecting a standing O or anything. Some people will remember the name hopefully."

Orioles Ramp Up Their Base Running

Designated hitter Aubrey Huff has never been known for his speed on the base paths. Entering this season, he had stolen only 21 bases over his seven-year career, spent almost exclusively in the power-dominated AL East. When he reaches first base, he said, opposing pitchers sometimes don't even bother to look.

But when the subject of base running came up in the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse this weekend, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Huff cracked a wry smile and slowly pumped his fist in front of his locker.

"I've got two bags," he said, making reference to one of this season's surprising statistics.

Huff has two stolen bases, a reflection of the Manager Dave Trembley's plan to use fearless base running to counter a shortage of power in the Orioles lineup -- nobody on the roster hit more than 23 home runs last season.

Aside from stealing bases, Orioles third base coach Juan Samuel has been aggressively sending runners home while players not seen as speed threats have been urged to lean toward tagging up on close plays. First baseman Kevin Millar has scored from first base on a hit this season. Against Seattle earlier this month, catcher Ramón Hernández scored after tagging up on a line drive to left field.

"You've got to take your chances," Hernández said.

Said Huff, "It puts pressure on the defense and definitely makes the game more exciting."

Not surprisingly, the faster players have been quick to embrace the style as well. Roberts is tied for the American League lead with seven stolen bases and Nick Markakis has stretched a single into a double at least once this season.

"You've got to manufacture runs," Roberts said. "If you don't hit a homer, not many guys score from first."

At times, the strategy has also worked against the Orioles. Baltimore runners have been picked off twice this season and base runners have been thrown out on the base paths -- the kind of particularly risky play that makes baseball statisticians cringe.

Base stealing runs contrary to research that has seemingly debunked its value, labeling the tactic as too costly in light of the risk of making an out on the base paths.

But Trembley, who revealed his preference for aggressive base running when he assumed the managerial role last season, remains undeterred.

"I don't think there's any secret that when I took over last year, we tried to do some of that stuff," said Trembley, who has regularly dipped into his bag of hit-and-runs and double steals. "Now I'm trying to emphasize it even more."

When Trembley hired first base coach John Shelby in the offseason, he put the former Orioles outfielder in charge of improving the team's base running, a process that began in earnest during the team's earliest days in spring training.

"You don't need fast base runners to be good base runners," Shelby said. "You just need to be aggressive and we've gone about it the right way, getting good secondary leads, getting these guys not afraid to get a big lead. A lot of these guys aren't used to getting big leads, but that's what I want."

Trembley maintains the risk is worth the reward, provided that the Orioles remain fundamentally sound and avoid crossing the line from aggressive to reckless.

"Some of those things will work in your favor," Trembley said. "When they do, they look great. When they don't, then you're kind of hung out to dry somewhat and you've got to readjust a little bit. You don't want to run what I call 'kamikaze style.' You don't run until you're out. Force it, but under control."

Injured O's Bynum, Cabrera Rehabbing

SEATTLE -- Two Orioles players moved closer to returning to the big league roster on Tuesday, when they played games at the team's extended Spring Training camp in Sarasota, Fla. Reliever Fernando Cabrera and utilityman Freddie Bynum are both expected to continue their respective rehabilitations for another week or so before their cases will be re-evaluated.

Cabrera, who's working back from offseason arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow, threw one inning on Tuesday and didn't allow any baserunners. The right-hander will have to go through a Minor League rehab stint once he's deemed healthy enough to pitch, and Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said it may take another week before he reaches that point.

"He'll take two days off and pitch again. He made it look easy," said Trembley. "I don't know if it's too soon yet, but at some point in time he's going to have to pitch back-to-back days. ... I don't know if he's there yet. But I would think that's something that he probably would have to do too before he gets sent out on a rehab assignment."

Bynum, who had surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee during Spring Training, may be a little closer than Cabrera. The Orioles want to make sure he can play both the infield and the outfield before he returns, and Trembley said the early returns have been positive. Bynum played shortstop on Tuesday and will float around for the rest of the week.

"He's doing all right," said Trembley, gauging the infielder's progress. "I would think he's probably going to play at least through this week and then we'll see where he's at. I don't know for sure, but I don't think he's been extended to play back-to-back days [and] full games yet. I think he's going to have to do that."

Orioles Team Report Apr 22, 2008

As the Orioles traveled Monday to Seattle, where they begin a three-game series Tuesday, two players on the long flight had to be wondering how they would be greeted.

George Sherrill, the Orioles’ closer, and Adam Jones, the rookie center fielder, both were members of the Mariners’ organization until they were traded to the Orioles during the off-season. They are mildly concerned about their return to the Great Northwest.

“I’m just waiting to see how I get received. Usually, they’re pretty good about it unless you choose to leave them,” Sherrill said. “It’s going to be good to see the city, the stadium and everything.”

Sherrill realizes that his former teammates’ familiarity with him could work against him.

“They know everything about you. They’ve (gotten) to see what you’ve got up close and personal for a few years. You’ve just got to still make your pitches and hope they don’t know too much.”

Jones was not as worried about the Mariners players, but he had hopes that the Seattle fans wouldn’t hold the trade against him.

“I hope they cheer, but if they don’t… I’m on the opposite team now. It doesn’t matter,” the young outfielder said.

Notes, Quotes

• RHP Jeremy Guthrie, scheduled to pitch Tuesday at Seattle, was 1-1 against the Mariners in 2007. He allowed 14 hits in 10 innings but was charged with only three earned runs.

• DH Aubrey Huff is one of the Orioles who have been slumping recently. He is 6-for-36 (.167) in his last 10 games and has not hit a home run since getting his second of the season April 7.

• 1B Kevin Millar takes a five-game hitting streak into the series in Seattle. During the streak he is 6-for-19 (.316) with five runs scored.

• UT Brandon Fahey got two hits—his second and third of the season—and his first RBI on Saturday to boost his average to .176. He is the only Oriole with an at-bat who has not scored a run.

• LHP George Sherrill, who turned 31 on Saturday, is returning to Seattle for the first time since being traded to the Orioles after four years in the Mariners’ organization. Used mostly as a set-up man in Seattle, he is among the AL leaders with six saves in his role of closer in Baltimore.

By The Numbers: 3—Pinch-hit singles in three consecutive games put Jay Payton in the spotlight in Baltimore. Payton ran his hitting streak to four games when he broke up Andy Pettitte’s no-hitter with a fifth-inning, broken bat, infield single on Sunday

Quote To Note: “I’m kind of surprised that we’ve surprised some people, to be honest with you. The wins make it easier to sell that, not to the players, but to the people that are watching, the people that love and care about the Orioles.”—Manager Dave Trembley reflecting on the Orioles’ early-season success.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What They're Saying About the Orioles

Here's a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Orioles:

Updated April 21

Aram Tolegian of has the Orioles 25th in his power rankings:

Taking the weekend series from the Yankees keeps the O's near the top of the AL East standings heading into a week that features road dates at Seattle and Chicago. Outside of Steve Trachsel's blow up in Toronto, the Orioles' pitching has held its own. Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff continue to form a strong duo of production, and we don't expect that to drop off completely.

Tyler Kepner of The New York Times says Andy MacPhail's offseason moves look good so far:

It's mid-April, still very, very early to make any real evaluations. The fans still aren't buying an Orioles turnaround. But the franchise is finally serious about rebuilding, and MacPhail seems to know how to do it. That can't be good news in the long term for the Yankees.

Steve Henson of Yahoo Sports comments on O's left fielder Luke Scott's hot start:

Is Luke Scott, acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in the Miguel Tejada trade, going to lead the American League in batting all season? Not likely. says the Orioles are worth $398 million, ranking them 19th in the majors.'s John Donovan has the Orioles 13th in his power rankings:

A rally against Bobby Jenks and the White Sox on Thursday saved the O's -- young Adam Jones had a big hit in the 10th -- but couldn't stop a tumble down the PRs. When Kevin Millar scored the game-winner, it was the only lead the O's had in the series. We may have seen the high point of Baltimore's year right there.

Tracy Ringolsby of says it's OK for Orioles fans to be excited:

Championships aren't won in April, but no sense taking the fun out of it for Baltimore and Florida. And who knows? Miracles do happen. Remember the 2006 Detroit Tigers? Never did get taken seriously, until they showed up to play St. Louis in the World Series. has the Orioles 19th in its power rankings:

George Sherrill is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and also has recorded one win.

Sean Deveney of has the O's 12th in his power rankings:

No team has played more home games (13). That ends this week with seven on the road. Expect them to be much lower in next week's poll.

USA Today has the Orioles 17th in its power rankings.

Orioles Team Report Apr 21, 2008

The Orioles don’t want to make a change at shortstop, where Luis Hernandez earned his starting job because of excellent defensive skills. Hernandez bringing a top glove was a key factor in the decision to trade Miguel Tejada during the offseason.

Hernandez did hit .290 after being called up late in the 2007 season, but that was something the Orioles had not seen previously so they weren’t counting on his bat. But so far this season, Hernandez has been shaky in the field. His glove is what the Orioles were counting on.

“He hasn’t been the same guy. I think he’s in a fielding slump. I really do,” said manager Dave Trembley, who pointed out that while Hernandez has made only two errors, he has done several fundamental things wrong while in the field.

“I’m convinced that it’s more physical than it is nerves. I’ve watched him on tape … you saw on a ground ball his feet were too close together catching the ball, he was throwing off the wrong foot and the ump called a guy safe on a steal because he tried to do a two-hand tag,” explained Trembley as he tried hard to veil his frustration.

Trembley is in a quandary trying to decide how to handle Hernandez, who is currently hitting .226, which is a bit below the club’s expectations. But it is the fielding mistakes that have Trembley more concerned.

“I don’t see the same confidence we saw last year. It seems like he’s thinking too much when he should be reacting,” said infield instructor Juan Samuel. “He’s thinking what he wants to do with the ball before he sees the ball there. We saw some of that in spring training. He started out very good, but we’re starting to see some inconsistencies in some areas.

“I don’t think you should ever have a slump on the field. You should never take that to the field. I think I’ve adequately explained to him and on record that whatever I get from him offensively is a bonus,” continued the former major league infielder. “What I want from whoever’s playing shortstop here is somebody who can consistently hold down the anchor at shortstop and make the routine play.”

Yankees 7, Orioles 1: Alex Rodriquez and Hideki Matsui doubled off starter Steve Trachsel in the fourth inning and Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer off reliever Chad Bradford in the seventh, while Andy Pettitte was baffling the Orioles’ hitters. Derek Jeter hit a bases-loaded double to break the game wide open in the top of the ninth. The Orioles managed only six hits in the game that was twice delayed by rain in the late innings.

Notes, Quotes

• 2B Brian Roberts continues to struggle at the plate. Although he had a sacrifice fly on Sunday, he still ended the day on a 2-for-24 stretch that saw his average fall to .247 after hovering near the .300 mark for the first two weeks of the season.

• RHP Chad Bradford, who has given up only one home run in each of his last three major league seasons, was touched for a two-run clout on Sunday by Johnny Damon, the first batter he faced when relieving RHP Steve Trachsel in the seventh inning.

• LF Luke Scott’s seven-game hitting streak was snapped with an 0-for-4 effort at the plate against the Yankees on Sunday.

• LHP Adam Loewen, scheduled to pitch on Tuesday in Seattle, may be moved back to Thursday. Manager Dave Trembley implied on Sunday that the change would be made to give Loewen time to work on regaining command of his pitches.

• SS Luis Hernandez, who made the team because of his fielding, has been in a defensive slump with three errors in the first 19 games of the season. He worked with Coach Juan Samuel on his footwork when that, more than being nervous in his first major league season, was deemed his problem making plays cleanly.

By The Numbers: 3—Pinch-hit singles in three consecutive games put Jay Payton in the spotlight in Baltimore. Payton ran his hitting streak to four games when he broke up Andy Pettitte’s no-hitter with a fifth-inning, broken bat, infield single on Sunday

Quote To Note: “I’m kind of surprised that we’ve surprised some people, to be honest with you. The wins make it easier to sell that, not to the players, but to the people that are watching, the people that love and care about the Orioles.”—Manager Dave Trembley reflecting on the Orioles’ early-season success.

Pair of O's Ready to Return to Seattle

BALTIMORE -- George Sherrill and Adam Jones have already played against their former team, but they haven't been back to their first home stadium. Both Sherrill and Jones will get to experience Safeco Field for the first time as a visiting opponent next week, when the Orioles play a three-game series against the Mariners that starts on Tuesday and ends on Thursday.

Both Sherrill and Jones arrived in the offseason trade for Erik Bedard, and both played a role when Baltimore swept three games from Seattle in the first week of the season. Both players have repeatedly stressed that their Seattle tenure is behind them, but they admitted on Sunday that it will be interesting to return to their former home park.

"I'm just waiting to see how I get received," said Sherrill. "Usually, they're pretty good about it -- unless you choose to leave them. They get on [Alex Rodriguez] pretty good. It's going to be good to see the city, the stadium and everything."

"I hope they cheer," added Jones. "If they don't, I'm on the opposite team now. It doesn't matter."

Baltimore is coming off one difficult segment of its schedule and heading into another one. The Orioles just played 18 games without a day off, and they posted an 11-7 record over that span. Now, Baltimore will play 17 of its next 20 games on the road, a stretch that takes the team to Seattle, Chicago, Anaheim and Oakland.

With that in mind, Orioles manager Dave Trembley re-arranged his starting rotation to have his best arms facing forward. Jeremy Guthrie and Daniel Cabrera will start the first two games of the trip, and southpaw Adam Loewen will be pushed back to start the Seattle finale. That arrangement, said Trembley, is designed to keep Guthrie and Cabrera on track.

"We're trying to keep Guthrie and Cabrera on five [days' rest] if we possibly can," said Trembley. "With off-days, both of those guys have been skipped two or three times [or] have pitched on six days' rest more than the other guys. This is the only off-day we have for a while. Both of those guys are coming off very strong outings.

"Let's see if we can keep them as close to the routing that they're on as possible. It's that simple."

Trembley also said that Loewen threw two extra sidelines since his last start in an effort to improve his fastball command. Sherrill, meanwhile, pitched on Sunday and is looking forward to facing his former teammates.

"You always wonder about that," Sherrill said, speaking about his former team's familiarity with his stuff. "You try to put it in your head to make everything the same. They know everything about you. They get to see what you've got up close and personal for a few years. You've just got to still make your pitches and hope they don't know too much."

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (0-1, 4.38 ERA)
Guthrie went 2-5 with a 4.15 ERA at home and 5-0 with a 3.25 mark on the road last season.

SEA: RHP Felix Hernandez (2-0, 1.47 ERA)
Hernandez has pitched into the seventh inning in all of his starts and has yet to allow more than two earned runs.

Bird bites
The Orioles, who have had two games rained out this season, braved a pair of 37-minute rain delays in Sunday's game. ... Left fielder Luke Scott saw his seven-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday. ... Chad Bradford allowed his first home run of the season on Sunday. Bradford allowed one home run in each of the past three seasons and has allowed four since the start of 2005.

On the Internet
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television
• MASN 2

On radio
• WHFS 105.7

Up next
• Wednesday: Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 1-0, 5.16) at Mariners (Carlos Silva, 3-0, 2.79), 10:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Orioles (Adam Loewen, 1-0, 6.32) at Mariners (TBD), 10:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Orioles (Brian Burres, 2-1, 3.63) at White Sox (TBD), 8:11 p.m. ET

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tejada Took a Desperate Measure in a Deperate Time

A-Rod Injured, Pettitte Shines as Yankees Beat Orioles 7-1

BALTIMORE (AP)—A much-needed win for the New York Yankees was tarnished by the loss of Alex Rodriguez, who can only hope a leg injury won’t force him out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Rodriguez hit an RBI double and scored before leaving in the sixth inning, and the Yankees ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-1 on a rainy Sunday.

Andy Pettitte pitched seven scoreless innings, Johnny Damon homered and Derek Jeter had a three-run double as the Yankees salvaged the finale of a three-game series.

Rodriguez strained his right quadriceps while running out a grounder. He and Josh Hamilton of Texas are the only AL players to start every game this season, and A-Rod will have an extra day to recover because the Yankees are off Monday.

“I’ll get some rest, wake up and see how it feels,” he said. “I’ll treat it all day. I have a heat pad, sleep on that, then ice it, and do treatment all day and let it roll.”

Rodriguez reached first base on a fielder’s choice and left after one pitch, thanks in part to some heads-up work by first base coach Tony Pena.

“I felt it a little bit in my swing, then probably four or five steps out of the box, I felt a little twinge,” Rodriguez said. “I give Tony a lot of credit. He knew that if I had to go first to third on a double that perhaps I could have hurt it very seriously.”

It’s the first time since high school Rodriguez had such an injury. Asked how long he expected to be out, the third baseman replied, “I haven’t had an injury like this in a long time, so I’m hoping no time in a perfect world. Let’s see how I wake up.”

Earlier, Rodriguez provided Pettitte with all the offense he needed to win his third straight start.

Pettitte (3-1) was the ideal pitcher for a Yankees team that needed a win to get back to .500. The left-hander retired the first 14 batters and ended up yielding only four hits in improving to 23-6 lifetime against Baltimore, including 14-4 at Camden Yards. He struck out five and walked none.

“I’ve had a lot of bad ones here, that’s for sure,” he said. “I felt good with my command early and they were swinging early and it helped me be able to pitch deep into the game. So that was good.”

Joba Chamberlain gave up a run in the eighth, only the second earned run he’s allowed in 30 1-3 career innings.

The Yankees were 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position during the series before breaking the trend in the fourth inning against Steve Trachsel (1-3). Bobby Abreu walked and stole second before Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui hit successive doubles for a 2-0 lead.

That equaled the total of runs New York scored in the first two games of the series.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi conceded. “This is an offense where we expect to score runs. We didn’t the last two days. We did today, and it was nice to see.”

After slumping Jason Giambi bounced into a double play with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth, Damon connected with a man on in the seventh against Chad Bradford—only the second home run off the submariner in a 138-game span.

“He’s trying to get the ball in and got too much of the middle of the plate and Damon hit it,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

The Orioles’ first baserunner was Jay Payton, who reached with two outs in the fifth on a broken-bat dribbler down the third-base line that was too slow to even warrant a throw from Rodriguez.

“I knew that I hadn’t given up a hit,” Pettitte said. “I really didn’t think about it very much because I didn’t think there was any way I could throw a no-hitter, because I don’t think I can throw a no-hitter. Some guys never come close to throwing a no-hitter before, so I just assume somebody’s going to get a hit off me.”

Adam Jones followed with a single up the middle, but Pettitte retired Guillermo Quiroz on a fly to center. Brian Roberts reached third with one in the sixth but was stranded, and Kevin Millar was left on after hitting a leadoff double in the seventh.

“Andy Pettitte was outstanding today,” Trembley said. “He had command from the first hitter, used all his pitches. He was going to be tough to beat. Just a well-pitched game from Pettitte.”

Chamberlain gave up two hits without getting an out before rain stopped the game for 37 minutes. When play was resumed, Roberts hit a sacrifice fly off Brian Bruney to make it 4-1.

Jeter’s fourth extra-base hit of the year, and second of the game, came off George Sherrill in the ninth before a second rain delay of 37 minutes.

“We’re 10-10. It could be better. It could be worse,” Damon said. “Right now, I think our team will take it.”


Pettitte struck out Nick Markakis three times. … Jones made three outstanding catches in center, including a diving stab of a liner by Jeter in the seventh. … Giambi went 0-for-3 with a walk and is 5-for-46 (.109) this season.

Series at a Glance

NY Yankees 2
Baltimore 8
Fri, Apr 18 - Final
NY Yankees 0
Baltimore 6
Sat, Apr 19 - Final
NY Yankees 7
Baltimore 1
Sun, Apr 20 - Final

Trembley Needs no Reminder of Fortune

BALTIMORE -- Whenever the Orioles play the Yankees, Baltimore manager Dave Trembley can look across the field and see a face that affected his future. Trembley knows that New York manager Joe Girardi was offered the Baltimore job before he was last season, but Trembley doesn't feel a kinship or wonder about how his life could have turned out differently.

Trembley is just thankful to have his job, a sentiment he articulates as clearly as he makes out his lineup card. In fact, the former Minor League manager said he can still clearly remember the phone call that led to his hiring.

"I was asked to manage the club, and I said, 'You don't have to tell me how long -- I won't ask you,'" Trembley said of his interim status. "That's the same thing I have today. I feel the same way. Every day I get to do this is one more day that I've beaten the odds. It's one more day that I've done something that not a whole lot of people have ever had the opportunity to do.

"I appreciate it. I'm grateful for it. I understand the responsibility that goes along with it, but I don't ponder thoughts of what could've been or what should've been or any of that stuff."

Trembley shed his interim status late last season, and Girardi was hired as the Yankees' manager during the offseason. The Orioles have begun a rapid makeover on the field, a fact that Girardi recognized earlier in the week. Baltimore shed some high-priced veteran talent and is emphasizing a return to fundamental play and a commitment to pitching.

The early returns have been promising, and Trembley has made sure to share the credit for his team's 11-7 start. The Orioles are winning as a team, and Trembley is proud of the way they have played in the season's first three weeks.

"I'm kind of surprised that we've surprised some people, to be honest with you," Trembley said. "The wins make it easier to sell that -- not to those players, but to the people that are watching, the [media and] the people that love and care about the Orioles.

"It makes it easier for them to see. It doesn't change our approach. It doesn't change how I feel and it doesn't alter the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is we're laying the foundation for not only this year but for many years to come."

To make his point, Trembley underlined the wave of pitching talent that begins in Class A Delmarva and flows all the way to the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk. He also mentioned the club's new management team and expressed the opinion that the players have begun to buy into the new scheme, a process that will continue over the course of the season.

"It didn't mean a hill of beans to me what that record was in Spring Training," Trembley said. "But the way those guys played in Spring Training is the same exact way they're playing right now. The same exact way -- hard."

Being Named in the Mitchell Report Has Been a Curse

Barry Bonds is sitting by the phone in Beverly Hills waiting for the call that even he by now must know will never come. Roger Clemens is similarly idle, hoping that his next call doesn’t come from someone at the federal courthouse.

Jose Guillen is probably wishing he had been suspended 15 days to start the season, while Jay Gibbons wishes he had a job to be suspended from.

Milwaukee fans cringe when Eric Gagne takes the mound, and Paul Lo Duca can’t hit the ball out of the infield anymore.

To top it all off, Miguel Tejada has suddenly aged two years.

Being named in the Mitchell Report wasn’t just bad for reputations. It’s becoming a career killer.

Sure, it’s only a few weeks into the season, and only a tenth of the 162-game schedule has been played. But trends are emerging that have to make even the most gullible fan think twice about what his or her favorite player might have been doing to become so good.

The evidence is, of course, circumstantial. There might be a dozen other reasons why players named in the report are struggling, though first suspicions are often best.

And it is still early in the season, so things could change. Who knows, Lo Duca might be leading the league in home runs by July and there might even be a team desperate enough to try to sign Bonds and Clemens in a package deal.

But for now, the shame of being named in the Mitchell Report is, for a lot of players, being compounded by the embarrassment of being unable this season to do what they have done in the past.

That’s not true in the case of Tejada, who is doing fine in hitter-friendly Houston. But Tejada, who remains under investigation for allegedly lying to congressional investigators about steroids, was embarrassed enough this week when ESPN lured him to an interview and then confronted him with evidence he was actually 33, not 31.

For others, the pain is being felt on the field.

Guillen, who avoided a suspension for violating baseball’s drug abuse program only because of a deal reached between the owners and players’ union, was supposed to give the Kansas City Royals a big bat when they signed him for $36 million the same day his suspension was announced. Going into the weekend he was hitting .162 with an on-base percentage of .186 and no home runs in 68 at-bats.

At least Guillen has a job. Gibbons, who also was going to be suspended for allegedly receiving steroids and human growth hormone from a mail order pharmacy, was released by the Baltimore Orioles before the season began, though the pain of being unemployed is helped by the fact he is still collecting nearly $12 million owed to him under his contract.

Troy Glaus has a job, too. He was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals despite reports that linked him to steroid shipments because they needed a right-handed bat to protect Albert Pujols. Glaus, who had back-to-back seasons of more than 40 home runs in his prime, has none so far this year and was yanked from a game last week because he wasn’t hitting.

Others struggling amid increased scrutiny of performance-enhancing drugs include:

— Gagne, who got $10 million from the Brewers even though he allegedly received HGH shipments and baseball executives whispered that he was juiced. Gagne has blown two of his eight save appearances so far this year and his stuff doesn’t look nearly as nasty as when he saved 84 games in a row with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

— Lo Duca, who was named by supplier Kirk Radomski as a customer in at least a half-dozen HGH transactions. Lo Duca once hit 25 home runs for the Dodgers, but was hitting .200 with no home runs for the Washington Nationals before going on the disabled list Friday with a hand injury.

— Paul Byrd, the Cleveland right-hander who acknowledged reports he used HGH during last year’s playoffs, but said they were for a tumor on his pituitary gland. A newspaper reported a Florida dentist prescribed them for Byrd, who is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA so far this year.

— Jack Cust, who hit 26 home runs for the Oakland Athletics last year, has one this season and is hitting .159.

— Jason Giambi, the poster boy for steroids who is being paid $23.4 million by the Yankees this year. Giambi is hitting .116, the worst average in the American League for anyone with more than 14 at-bats.

— Gary Sheffield, hitting .208 with one home run for the Detroit Tigers.

Not all players named in the report are tanking. Interestingly enough, the few who are doing well are the same few who stood up, ad admitted their mistakes and apologized for their actions, perhaps proving that true repentance might be the best way to reclaim a career.

They include Andy Pettitte (2-1, 3.38 ERA), Matt Herges of the Colorado Rockies (2.31 ERA in middle relief) and Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts (.258 average).

Gagne apologized, too, in two different languages, though like Giambi he never said what he was sorry for. Neither did Lo Duca, whose response when asked was:

“Come on, bro’. Next question.”

To which Nationals fans might now reply:

“Come on bro’. Hit a home run.”

O's Try for Rare Yankees Sweep

BALTIMORE -- The revamped Orioles continued to roll on Saturday night and will go into Sunday's series finale against the Yankees with a chance to sweep New York for the first time since April 2005. Baltimore will have veteran Steve Trachsel starting on Sunday, and the Yankees will counter with southpaw Andy Pettitte.

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said his team's success boils down to a couple elements, chief among them sturdy pitching and a patient batting order. If the Orioles are to continue thriving, he said, they have to stick to the same approach.

"What we've had is a plan, from Spring Training on," Trembley said after Saturday night's 6-0 win. "We've tried to implement that plan and get our guys to buy into it. ... I think for the most part, it's been very evident our guys are getting very deep in the count and they're not afraid to hit with two strikes.

"We try to wear down their starting pitcher so we can get in their bullpen, and the earlier you can do that, the better."

That strategy has worked in each of the past two nights, and Baltimore has run up substantial leads within the game's first six innings. Trembley even went out of his way to protect that advantage on Saturday night, when he pulled southpaw Brian Burres with two outs in the sixth inning even though he was in the middle of pitching a shutout.

Trembley defended that decision after the game, saying that Burres had pitched enough and that the Orioles need to be as careful as they can against a star-studded lineup like the one they faced on Saturday night.

"The last thing in the world we're going to do is let them get back in the game with one swing of the bat," said Trembley, acknowledging New York's home run power. "I think you've got to do it then. It's like anything else in this game -- you've got one chance to do it and you've got to see it. If you don't see it and you blink, it's going to be too late."

New York has dominated the season series in recent years, winning 22 of the past 25 seasons. The Orioles haven't gotten the best of the Yankees since 1997, racking up a 59-110 record over that span.

Pitching matchup
BAL: RHP Steve Trachsel (1-2, 5.65 ERA)
Trachsel got knocked out before the end of the third inning in his last outing.

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (2-1, 3.38 ERA)
Pettitte went 4-6 with a 4.25 ERA before the All-Star break and 11-3 with a 3.84 mark after it last season.

Bird bites
Luke Scott walked twice and singled on Saturday to extend his team-high hitting streak to seven games. ... Baltimore's shutout win on Saturday was the team's first since last September and first against New York since last August. ... The Orioles have won three straight games and improved their home record to 9-3 and their record against division rivals to 5-4.

Burres Grinds out O's 3rd Win in a Row

BALTIMORE -- Brian Burres helped pave a well-worn path to first base on Saturday night and compensated by erecting a roadblock whenever runners reached scoring position. The Orioles starter walked four batters and gave up five hits against the Yankees, but he made big pitches and led Baltimore to its first shutout of the year in a 6-0 win.

"When you get a shutout," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, "obviously the guy you should be talking to isn't the guy sitting up here. You should be impressed with what the pitching did and the guys playing behind them. You've got to appreciate that, especially after some of the situations. You've got to tip your hat to Burres -- a lot."

Burres had thrown four no-hit innings against the Rays in his previous outing, but the bats caught up to him in a six-run fifth inning. That reckoning never arrived on Saturday, thanks to some strong work with runners on base. Burres (2-1) got two key double plays in the early going and stranded at least one runner in all of his innings.

Perhaps the toughest moment came in the first inning, when Burres worked out of a bases-loaded jam. The southpaw forced New York to leave three runners in scoring position in the first three innings and left the game with two outs and a man on in the sixth. Burres threw 88 pitches, but most importantly, he showed his manager some poise.

"I think what gets him in trouble is he gets to two strikes and then he nibbles," said Trembley. "Tonight, for the most part, I saw him stay the course and be aggressive and attack and go after the hitters. And that kind of sets the tone for the game, especially after you've scored. After you score, you want to keep that tempo going, and I saw him do that tonight."

"I did manage to get myself in some trouble," added Burres. "But I made a pitch when I needed to at the right time. ... It's definitely nice when it happens. It's kind of a relief getting out of first and second and one out."

The Orioles have now won three straight games, improving to 9-3 at home and 5-4 against division rivals.

Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez finished the night with two doubles and two RBIs, and he said he noticed a profound difference in Burres. Instead of sticking with the same plan all the way through the game like he did in St. Petersburg, Hernandez said that Burres was able to make adjustments once he got through the batting order twice.

"He mixed up his pitches," said Hernandez, who ushered Burres through the start. "He used his changeup, breaking ball, slow curve, slider and he was spotting the fastball pretty good -- especially inside to righties and lefties. I think he did a great job. He kept them off balance, he threw strikes and got ahead in the count. If you've got that, it's going to be a little easier."

Baltimore (11-7) left the bases loaded in the first inning but took a lead in the second on consecutive doubles by Hernandez and shortstop Brandon Fahey. First baseman Kevin Millar led off the third with a solo home run to left field, and a few batters later, Hernandez cashed in after two batters walked by smashing a 3-0 pitch for a two-run double.

"I wanted to make sure to hit it hard if I was going to swing," Hernandez said. "It's got to be a strike on 3-0."

"You've got to send them a message that you have confidence in them," said Trembley of the green light. "And especially early in the season, you have to do that when guys who are proven Major League players and have had success in the past are struggling. The best thing you can do is support them and let them know you feel they can get the job done."

Designated hitter Aubrey Huff accounted for the final margin with a two-run double in the seventh inning, giving the Orioles their fourth win this season of five runs or more. Reliever Jim Johnson helped keep the score where it was by throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Johnson has now thrown nine scoreless innings this season.

"I don't think you should be so caught up in the past," said Johnson, who had an 18.00 ERA coming into this season. "You can't really think about that when you're out on the mound. You have to just know you're in your comfort zone right there and just execute your pitches. It's almost like a tunnel, in that aspect. You're out there by yourself."

"What can you say about Johnson?" asked Trembley of the rookie, who recorded his first career save on Saturday night. "I probably underestimated him before when I said he was the most improved guy. I think we're past that. This guy has been very special for us. He's come up with movement on his fastball, very good poise, fields his position."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Orioles' Roberts Speaks at High School Forum

Orioles star Brian Roberts said yesterday that his first direct exposure to steroids was when he saw teammates using them after he was called up from the minor leagues in 2001, but he never imagined he would succumb to the temptation to use the drugs.

In an informal talk to high school athletes - and in an interview with The Sun - Roberts, a two-time All-Star and one of Baltimore's most popular athletes, described how he came to use steroids once in 2003, why he kept it quiet for years and why he ultimately admitted his mistake.

His comments contrast with years of equivocation or angry denials by other baseball stars accused of steroid use. Roberts himself denied using the drugs in 2006 after a Los Angeles Times report named him and others as users.

"I saw a couple of my teammates using steroids. I saw them begin to - what I thought was - see benefits from it for a short period of time," Roberts, who did not name the teammates, told about 350 student athletes and coaches.

Roberts, 30, said he fought a battle within himself over the drugs, using them once: "One day, that I wish I could take back for a lot of reasons."

The son of a college baseball coach, he suggested his steroid use was largely the product of pressure and expectations. "In the business I'm in that's so competitive, every move you make is scrutinized on TV and by 50,000 people. Every night you want to live up to those expectations, and you want to feel like you're keeping pace," the second baseman said.

In his remarks, Roberts cast himself as a different sort of role model - one who admits his flaws in the hopes others can learn from them. "What you have to realize is that we all make mistakes," Roberts told the students from Baltimore City and Baltimore County public and private schools.

He seemed to win over an audience that included Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who recruited Roberts to address yesterday's conference sponsored by Powered by ME!, a program educating about the dangers of steroids.

"It helped me realize that you don't have to take the easy way out by cheating," said Eddie Scott, a sophomore at City.

Said Cummings: "When he gets up to bat, I hope people will clap a little harder and a little longer."

Roberts was among 19 current or former Orioles named in December in the Mitchell Report on steroid use in major league baseball. Roberts was included after former Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie relayed a 2004 conversation to investigators in which Roberts allegedly admitted injecting himself with steroids "once or twice" in 2003.

"I don't know how familiar you guys are with the thing called the Mitchell Report," said Roberts, who wore jeans and a button-down shirt as he paced back and forth on the stage of a hotel ballroom in front of the students.

"All over the TV, all over everywhere, people were saying that I was wrongfully thrown in this report, that this was crazy, that I should sue. For a day or two, I didn't know what to do. I was as confused as anybody," he said.

"I knew the truth, obviously, deep in my heart, but I was trying to seek counsel from people around me, my family and friends. And I had some people that I trusted very much who were saying, 'Don't tell anybody. They don't need to know. This is your life. This is your business.' And in the end, I said, 'You know I can't live with it like that.' "

The number of Orioles linked to steroids has led some observers to wonder whether the drugs were a bigger problem for the team than for others. "I don't know that anyone knows," Orioles owner Peter Angelos replied when asked that question by reporters in January.

Roberts said the climate was different when he used steroids than today.

"I think it was fairly open five years ago, and I would definitely say it's not anymore. I think there was a time period where it was the cool, in thing," he said.

Baseball has toughened its steroid testing and penalties since 2003, largely in response to congressional concerns.

Brenda and Frank Marrero, whose son, Efrain, used steroids before committing suicide in 2004, said Roberts' candor contrasts with years of angry denials by such players as home run king Barry Bonds and pitching great Roger Clemens.

The Marreros, who addressed students at yesterday's conference, said their son had looked up to Bonds and that many high school athletes take their cues from their professional heroes.

"These [athletes] need to come forward. They need to say, 'I made a mistake,' " Frank Marrero said. "I want them to speak to the kids directly."

Roberts said he has paid a price for his error.

"I went to meet my girlfriend's parents for the first time ... in December," he told the students. "I was sitting on the couch with a bunch of her parents' friends and my name is crawling across the bottom line of ESPN. And she's looking at me like, 'Why did I bring you here?' "

Roberts, who said his father always had high expectations for his son's baseball career, had often been told growing up that his size - 5 feet 9, 175 pounds - would keep him from achieving his dream of playing big league baseball.

He said he initially believed he would resist the drugs. "I knew the way that I was raised," he said.

After using steroids, Roberts said, he didn't initially consider disclosing it. "Honestly, it's not really anybody's business what I do on a daily basis," he said in an interview before speaking to the students. "I dealt with it the way I needed to between myself and between God and between the people closest to me."

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