ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rookie pitcher Arthur Rhodes will not be treated with kid gloves, even if he is one of the kids that the Baltimore Orioles are depending heavily upon for the the future.
Rhodes is scheduled to make his major-league debut tonight against a Texas Rangers lineup that has been very tough on left-handers, but manager John Oates said yesterday that he will not be quick to pull the young left-hander out of a difficult situation.
"There's a fine line between letting someone get beaten down and letting him learn to work out of trouble," Oates said. "If he struggles, I'm not going to leave him out there to take a beating, but I'm going to leave him out there long enough to make some adjustments."
That's more than Oates did with some of his veteran pitchers earlier this year, but the Orioles need to make an accurate evaluation of the young starting rotation before the club assembles for spring training next year.
"They [the young starters] were brought here to pitch and they're going to pitch," Oates added. "I'm going to try to pitch these guys seven or eight innings. I'm not going to let them labor just to say they pitched that long, but if we are going to go with 10 pitchers, we can't afford to have a bunch of five-inning starters.
"When you pitch seven or eight innings, there are going to be one or two innings where you have to pitch out of trouble, not look out at the bullpen for help."
Rhodes will be activated today to fill out a rotation that averages just 23 years of age. He will be the second Orioles starter to make his major-league debut in two weeks.
"We'll do it just like we did with [Mike] Mussina," Oates said. "Let him go out and watch him and let him get over the nervousness and give him a chance to pitch a little bit."
Roster move today
The Orioles will have to move someone off the roster to make room for Rhodes, but club officials are not saying who it will be.
The most likely scenario has outfielder Brady Anderson being optioned to the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings, but returning in 10 days when the major-league roster limit rises to 40.
Oates on Evans
Oates met with Dwight Evans recently to discuss the veteran outfielder's future with the club.
"I understand he could be one of the guys off our ballclub that a contending ballclub might be interested in," Oates said. "I told him we would not stand in his way, but if it didn't work out that way, I think he could be a very important player on our ballclub [next year]."
If a trade is forthcoming, it probably will take place in the next week. The deadline for a player to join a new team and be eligible for postseason play is Aug. 31.
"I did mention that I think he could become an outstanding offensive player off the bench for us [next year]," Oates said. "I think he could become the Manny Mota of the Orioles."
Mota extended his career by several years with the Los Angeles Dodgers because he accepted a pinch-hitting role and turned it into a specialty. Oates thinks Evans could do the same thing but would expect him to choose more regular playing time if it were offered by another club.
Slack marches on
Outfielder Joe Orsulak singled off Texas Rangers right-hander Dennis Boyd in his first at-bat last night to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, the longest by an Oriole since Lee Lacy hit in 20 straight in 1985.
As expected, Glenn Davis started at first base last night and Randy Milligan was the designated hitter. . . . Monday night, Nolan Ryan became the second pitcher to defeat the Orioles 3 times this year. Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Jaime Navarro is the other. . . . Rhodes will be the 18th pitcher to appear in a game for the Orioles this year and the 10th starter. . . . Opposing hitters are batting .210 against rookie reliever Jim Poole. He has retired 38 of the 46 batters he has faced.