In latest alignment, Mesa is nowhere man
One-time starter faces trade, waivers
Pitcher Jose Mesa became the odd man out of the revised Orioles pitching staff when he was designated for assignment yesterday to make roster room for left-hander Pat Clements.
The Orioles have 10 days to trade Mesa or possibly lose him through waivers.
"Some clubs have expressed some possible interest, but we have not been able to close any deal," said general manager Roland Hemond before last night's game with the Minnesota Twins.
Hemond said it was possible Mesa could clear waivers and accept an assignment in the Orioles' minor-league system. But that possibility appears remote, given the interest Hemond has perceived.
That the Orioles gave up on the hard thrower was somewhat of a surprise, even though he had just five wins in his past 28 starts. He began the season as the fifth starter but was removed from the rotation after a loss to the Kansas City Royals on June 28. He made his only relief appearance of the year Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox and gave up one run in 2 1/3 innings.
Mesa, 26, leaves with a record of 3-8 with a 5.19 ERA in 13 games this season. He was 6-11 with a 5.97 ERA in 23 starts last year and is 13-24 for his Orioles career. He was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in August 1987 with Oswald Peraza in a trade for Mike Flanagan.
In the end, Mesa lost out when the Orioles went in search of some left-handed pitching. They found it in Arthur Rhodes, who beat the Twins, 4-2, Thursday night, and Clements, whom they )) acquired on waivers from San Diego. Mesa was out of options and could not be sent to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
Should the Orioles lose Mesa on waivers, it would be virtually a Mesa-for-Clements swap.
Asked about that trade, Oates said: "I would have done it. I need a left-handed pitcher."
Hemond said: "Now we're in the midst of a pennant race. We're trying to put together a staff as strong as it possibly can be. We needed left-handed pitching, and we added two left-handers within a couple of days. Now it's a different staff."
Hemond acknowledged the Orioles could have sent Rhodes to Rochester, but he would have had to stay for a minimum of 10 days.
Struggling right-hander Bob Milacki was another candidate to be dropped. Unlike Mesa, Milacki has had some success at the major-league level, with a 36-35 record.
Oates said the club also discussed possible moves involving outfielder Chito Martinez and designated hitter Glenn Davis.
"We did a lot of talking," Oates said.
Hemond praised Mesa even as he was dismissing him.
"Jose Mesa deserves a lot of credit," Hemond said. "He had to go through a lengthy rehabilitation from arm surgery. I haven't known many players who worked as hard as Jose Mesa. He still could be a successful pitcher in the major leagues."
Olson out through the break
Closer Gregg Olson, who suffered a strained left lateral oblique muscle while pitching Wednesday night, showed enough improvement yesterday to stay off the disabled list.
Olson threw along the sidelines with pitching coach Dick Bosman before last night's game to see if he could go through his pitching motion. The Orioles were satisfied with what they saw, although Oates said Olson isn't likely to throw until after the All-Star break. That would make
him unavailable for the entire four-game series with the Twins.
Leary on the carpet
American League president Bobby Brown met with New York Yankees pitcher Tim Leary and Gene Orza, general counsel for the Major League Players Association, for 20 minutes yesterday.
Brown discussed the alleged scuffball incident against the Orioles on June 21. Leary denied any wrongdoing, despite camera closeups of him putting something into his mouth. The league said that though incident remains suspicious, it does not contemplate disciplinary action.
Davis was out of the lineup for the second straight game, but Oates said he was available. Davis was a late scratch Thursday with a sore back. . . . Reliever Mark Williamson said he expects to pitch batting practice Wednesday for the first time since his arthroscopic elbow surgery. Williamson hopes to go on his rehabilitation assignment shortly after the All-Star break. . . . Last night's crowd of 45,458 was the 23rd consecutive sellout and 31st of the season.