KANSAS CITY, MO. — Oates happy with Mesa's early outings
Effective despite scattered schedule
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- John Oates says he is more than satisfied with the first two starts by Jose Mesa.
"He's been very firm -- much better than decent," the Orioles manager said of the right-hander who is working on an erratic schedule during the early weeks of the season.
Mesa pitched 5 1/3 solid innings in a 3-1 loss to Toronto April 12, then worked 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday night's 10-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. Mesa is the odd pitcher out whenever the Orioles have an off-day.
It is a role that many young pitchers have had trouble adjusting to in the past. "He's handled it very well so far," said Oates.
Mesa will make his third start of the season Sunday in New York, then miss his next turn before joining the rotation on a permanent basis. In his first two outings, Mesa has a 1-1 record, a 3.75 earned run average and has allowed 15 hits in 12 innings,
walking three and striking out six.
Whole lotta shaking in K.C.
The Royals, who last night set a club record for losses in April (13), shook up their lineup before the game.
The most significant move was the optioning of second baseman Terry Shumpert, who played in 12 of the first 13 games, to Triple-A Omaha. His place on the roster was taken by left-handed pitcher Curt Young, whose contract was purchased from Omaha.
Shumpert was replaced at second base by Keith Miller, who had been playing the outfield. Jim Eisenreich and Gary Thurman will platoon in left field.
At the time of his demotion, Shumpert was hitting .156. Going into last night's game, Miller was hitting .200, Eisenreich .250 and Thurman 1.000 (1-for-1).
Young was with the Royals in spring training, compiling an 0.56 ERA in 16 innings before being assigned to Omaha, where he was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two games.
Keeping spirits hopping
The Orioles held their first "Kangaroo Court" session of the year yesterday, and Oates was one of the first to be fined -- for breaking one of his own rules.
Oates wasn't on the top step of the dugout for the playing of the national anthem before Saturday's nationally televised game against Cleveland. "They played the anthem 20 minutes before game time because of national TV," said Oates, who nevertheless didn't appeal his fine.
Coach Greg Biagini was hit big time by the anthem rule -- having been cited for missing three times. He was cited twice for one game in Toronto because he missed the playing of both the Canadian and American anthems.
Biagini was given the option of either paying his fine or singing Francis Scott Key's hit song in the clubhouse. He opted to pay the fine.
Ups and downs
After Tuesday night's 10-4 win over the Royals, the Orioles' pitching staff dropped from first to third in the American League with a 3.01 ERA. However, at the same time the Orioles took over batting leadership with a team average of .274.
Brady Anderson was among the American League's top 10 in 10 offensive categories. Mike Devereaux had six hits in his last nine at-bats before last night, and Leo Gomez had a four-game hitting streak.
Through the first 14 games, Orioles starters have failed to pitch into the sixth inning only twice.