The Orioles moved to strengthen their organizational pitching depth yesterday by signing area native Mike Bielecki to a Triple-A contract.
Bielecki, a graduate of Dundalk High School, was released by Cleveland on June 19. After undergoing elbow surgery last August while with the Atlanta Braves, Bielecki signed with the Indians last winter as a free agent.
He was 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA before being released by the Indians. The Orioles signed Bielecki, who will be 34 on July 31, after working him out at Camden Yards.
"He threw twice and threw very well," said manager Johnny Oates. "It takes time to come back from surgery."
Doug Melvin, the club's director of player personnel, said the Orioles had interest in Bielecki a year ago, but backed off when he had to undergo surgery.
"I think he has a sense of comfort with our organization," said Melvin, noting that Bielecki and Rick Sutcliffe are close friends from their days together with the Chicago Cubs. "He was also [Rochester manager] Bob Miscik's roommate in Hawaii when both were in the Pittsburgh system.
"To his credit, he recognizes that he needs to pitch. He knows he has to make four, five or six starts without worrying that the manager's going to take him out," said Melvin.
Bielecki will make his first start for Rochester tomorrow night against Richmond.
Toronto right fielder Joe Carter was not in the starting lineup last night because of a strained hamstring muscle suffered the night before. Carter, who described the strain as "a little one," was in manager Cito Gaston's original lineup, but was scratched after batting practice.
Carter suffered the injury while coming out of the batter's box in the third inning Monday night, when he doubled down the left-field line. The strain wasn't bad enough to keep him from stealing third base, but Carter left an inning later.
Rhodes to recovery
Arthur Rhodes pitched three innings of a simulated game yesterday and probably will begin a rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
"He'll throw on the side one more time [tomorrow] and then pitch Saturday someplace," said Oates. Rhodes, who was 1-2 with a 9.36 ERA in six starts, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee May 18.
It is expected that Rhodes will do his rehabilitation at Rochester, but that decision hasn't been finalized.
Mussina to start, Cito?
Gaston was asked before last night's game about the possibility of Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina starting the All-Star Game for the American League. "Is he on the team?" quipped Gaston, who will manage the AL team.
"I don't know if he [Oates] is going to set it up so he [Mussina] can pitch," added Gaston. "The All-Star Game is important, but they are in a pennant race."
Mussina, who missed his last turn because of biceps tendinitis, is scheduled to make his next start Friday in Chicago. In a normal rotation, he would then make his final start before the All-Star Game the following Wednesday.
That would give Mussina (9-3) five days of rest before the All-Star Game. Earlier in the year he loomed as a strong candidate to start the game, but his ERA has gone up to 3.83. His selection to the team could hinge on his next start.
When Ben McDonald had a balk called on him in the fourth inning last night, it was the first against the Orioles this year. They were the only team in the major leagues without a balk going into last night's game.