Lefthander Jim Poole likely won't return to the Orioles from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings this week when his rehabilitation assignment expires.
That will leave the team's bullpen situation the same -- one lefthander, Mike Flanagan, available.
"He doesn't have to come back here when the time's up," manager Johnny Oates said last night. "He can be assigned to a [minor-league] club."
Reports indicate Poole's arm strength has not fully returned. His fastball and slider "are a little below average across the board," Oates said.
"When he's ready to get big-league hitters out like he was last year, he'll be here. But our people say he has to pitch some more beforehand."
Poole has been troubled by tendinitis in his left shoulder since spring training.
His rehabilitation started with the Double-A Hagerstown Suns, for whom he was 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in seven games and allowed 14 hits in 13 innings.
In Poole's latest outing, against the Columbus Clippers, he pitched the ninth inning of a 3-1 defeat and retired all three hitters he faced.
With Rochester, he is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA, three walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
* GOMEZ OUT: Third baseman Leo Gomez was out of the lineup last night for the second straight game because of a jammed shoulder, but is expected to return tonight.
"He'll probably play Monday," said Oates. "The doctor convinced him to take one more day. He has dislocated his left shoulder three times, and now it's the right [or throwing] shoulder."
Tim Hulett started again in Gomez's place and went 1-for-3.
* HEALTHY CHANGE: Stability has been an important element in the Orioles' success.
Before last night, when Chris Hoiles joined the disabled list, the Orioles had made only three roster moves since Opening Day, as opposed to 10 at this point last year.
It placed Glenn Davis on the disabled list April 15 and recalled Luis Mercedes from Rochester. Two days later, Mark Williamson went on the DL and Alan Mills was recalled.
Before Hoiles, no moves had been made since May 4, when Davis was reinstated and Mercedes sent back to Rochester.
* THIRD UP: Mark McLemore was taking ground balls at third jTC base before last night's game, but it apparently wasn't a portent.
"That's not unusual," Oates said. "He's been doing that all year. He's third in line at third base and second in line at second base."
McLemore has reverted to being infield utilityman, batting only 16 times this month.
* GOT A TICKET? The new ballpark's popularity and team's success have created a new problem for Oates: satisfying ticket seekers.
"I spend more time on tickets than I do on managing the club," he said. "And I spend more money calling back people about tickets than I make managing the club."
Oates said his high school class had 169 members, but "I've heard from at least 500 people who say they went to high school with me."
* ANOTHER SELLOUT: Last night's sellout was the 11th straight for the Orioles, raising the overall total to 19.
The team's last paid crowd of fewer than 40,000 was May 7.