Arthur Rhodes, the top pitching prospect in the Orioles' farm system, earned a promotion to Camden Yards yesterday. How long he'll stay is uncertain.
The 22-year-old left-hander could be here for a day, or for a career.
No sooner had the Orioles recalled Rhodes from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings than they placed him in the starting rotation.
Rhodes will take take Storm Davis' place and start against the Minnesota Twins tonight.
Davis, meanwhile, went from the starting rotation to the disabled list. He aggravated a groin injury Saturday in his first start of the season in Minnesota and did not respond to treatment. He was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 5.
"We tried to keep it quiet," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said of Davis' injury. "It was borderline whether he could pitch or not [tonight]."
After a late-night call to Pawtucket, R.I., where the Red Wings were playing, the Orioles opted for bringing up Rhodes rather than Richie Lewis or Anthony Telford.
The reason, Oates said, was availability. Lewis had pitched against Pawtucket on Monday, Telford on Sunday. Rhodes was scheduled to pitch last night for the Red Wings when he was recalled.
"He was the only guy available," said Oates, who admitted the Orioles still were talking with other teams about possible trades.
Rhodes was 6-6 with a 3.72 ERA at Rochester, striking out 115 batters in 101 2/3 innings and 17 starts. Lewis was 7-6 with a 3.69 ERA, and Telford was 6-5 with a 4.61 ERA.
Oates said he wasn't certain how long Rhodes would stay. Complicating the matter is Davis' availability, the All-Star break and a potential trade for a fifth starter.
The Orioles expect Davis to recover in time to make his next scheduled start, five days after the All-Star break. That leaves Rhodes in limbo.
"We'll wait and see," Oates said. "It depends on what our need is. This is a move out of need. And our needs change a lot of things."
It is possible that Rhodes could pitch tonight against the Twins, make a Tuesday start for the Red Wings and then rejoin the Orioles if Davis is still injured.
Oates seemingly has no reservations about pitching Rhodes against one of the best hitting teams in the major leagues. "He pitched OK against them last year," Oates said. "He pitched five innings."
Called up at the end of last season, Rhodes was 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA in eight starts. His losses came against the Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians.
The Orioles had wanted to keep Rhodes at Rochester all season. That was the message Oates gave Rhodes in spring training when he sent him to Triple-A.
"We felt it was important that Arthur stay down and pitch all year," Oates said. "To get better in his career, he has to pitch [a lot of] innings. It's tough to do that out of the bullpen, especially as a long reliever."
The club does not feel Rhodes, a hard thrower, is as polished as Mike Mussina was when he was called up late last year. Mussina was 22 -- but with a college background -- when he went 4-5 with a 2.87 ERA in 12 starts. Mussina had pitched in only 28 minor-league games before arriving for good in the majors. Rhodes has pitched in 74 minor-league games.
Rhodes got the word yesterday morning and arrived in Baltimore in midafternoon. He declined to comment. "I've got work to do," he said as he entered the clubhouse and began to renew acquaintances.
Rhodes struck out 14 Pawtucket batters Friday in eight shutout innings. He allowed three hits, but had to sweat out a weak bullpen performance bullpen to get an 8-4 win.
Those shutout innings dropped his ERA to 3.72. In five starts from June 1 to June 28, his ERA rose from 3.05 to 4.04.
"When Arthur was born, God smiled on his left arm," said Telford. "He gave him a gift. As long as he keeps his head and uses his gift, he can do well in this game."
Said Rochester manager Jerry Narron: "He has pitched well to be 6-6. Sometimes you can't tell how a guy progresses by his record."